Three years after alleged murder, Warren man still awaits trial

Owen Morris is accused of killing his former chiropractor, Dr. Clive Bridgham, in January 2018

By Ted Hayes
Posted 2/3/21

Three years after he was charged in the brutal stabbing death of an East Providence doctor, a Warren man remains held without bond at the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston, as his murder …

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Three years after alleged murder, Warren man still awaits trial

Owen Morris is accused of killing his former chiropractor, Dr. Clive Bridgham, in January 2018

Posted

Three years after he was charged in the brutal stabbing death of an East Providence doctor, a Warren man remains held without bond at the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston, as his murder case slowly works its way through the court system.

Owen Morris, now 24, was 21 when prosecutors from the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office say he stabbed his former chiropractor, Dr. Clive Bridgham, to death in his East Providence home. The crime occurred Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, and prosecutors say it was the culmination of a long-standing relationship that had soured. Prior to Dr. Bridgham’s death, the two had an at times contentious relationship, with Mr. Morris once accusing the doctor in an official complaint to the state of inappropriate professional conduct. Prosecutors are seeking life without parole, and Mr. Morris has pleaded not guilty to the crime.

Over the past three years, no fewer than 12 pre-trial conferences have been scheduled in Rhode Island Superior Court, though not all of them were held. Due to the complexity of the case and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, his attorney, Barrington resident Jason Knight, said Monday that the case is taking longer than he'd ever expected.

Though he said he could not talk about the case's specifics, "we are in continued negotiations (with the state attorney general's office) to resolve the case. Those negotiations have been delayed significantly by the pandemic."

"This was a difficult case in the first place," Mr. Knight said. "There was a lot of effort up front in terms of preparing to talk to the attorney general's offie about the case, and we had just concluded that once the pandemic hit."

Mr. Morris is next scheduled to be in court on Monday, March 29.

As for his client, Mr. Knight said Mr. Morris is doing "OK."

"It's tough, like it is for anybody," he said. "It's particularly tough for Owen because of the extended time. He's taking it day by day."Mr. Morris, whose family owns homes in Warren and on Prudence Island, Portsmouth, is a former lacrosse player at the University of Rhode Island. It is through his athletic endeavors that he first started working with Dr. Bridgham, a noted sports physician who once operated the Barrington Chiropractic and Sports Medicine Clinic in Barrington. However, the relationship had became strained in recent years. Mr. Morris filed a complaint against Dr. Bridgham with the Rhode Island Department of Health in 2016, alleging that the doctor “violated the professional boundaries of the chiropractic physician-patient relationship” during the course of their acquaintance. It was not the first time Dr. Bridgham had been involved in such conduct. In April 2003, he was placed on three years of probation by the Department of Health after admitting to a sexual encounter with someone who was described as a “sibling” of a family he was treating.

As a result of Mr. Morris's complaint, Dr. Bridgham voluntarily surrendered his license in November 2017.

Apart from saying the two “knew each other personally and professionally,” authorities have not commented further on the relationship between Mr. Morris and Dr. Bridgham.

However, East Providence police, who conducted the initial investigation after finding the doctor’s body, believe Mr. Morris planned the murder in advance. That was borne out by the grand jury, which handed down its indictment on first degree murder charge on Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.