GUILTY: Kendrick Morris convicted of rape AGAIN

4:33 PM, Oct 6, 2010   |    comments
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Kendrick Morris

Tampa, Florida - The public defender for Kendrick Morris hung his head when the guilty verdict was announced Wednesday afternoon.

His 19-year-old client stood without emotion or expression.

Morris was convicted of raping an East Bay High School senior on April 24, 2008 as the young woman tried to return books at the Bloomingdale Library.

The attack was so vicious that the victim suffered severe brain damage.  She is now blind, and can no longer walk, talk or feed herself.  She has no recollection of what took place that night.

Morris declined to testify in his own defense during the trial that lasted nearly two weeks.

But, the decision to find him guilty was reached in a matter of minutes - 50 to be exact.

The jury left for lunch at 1:20pm Wednesday after they were charged.  It was less than an hour when they returned.

Morris was found guilty on two counts of sexual assault, one count of kidnapping and one count of aggravated battery.

Prosecutor Michael Sinacour delivered a closing argument and rebuttal that lasted for three hours.  He implored the jury to make the right decision and "not be swayed by ghosts."

"What they're doing is asking you to speculate, asking you to dispute the DNA," Sinacour said.

The prosecution maintained all along that this case was clear cut.  The attorneys had witnesses testify that Morris' DNA was found on the victim, and that her blood was found on his clothing.

"Your job is to weigh the evidence, hear the evidence and reach a decision,' Sinacour said during his closing statements. "The simplest explanation is usually the correct one."

At one point, Sinacour held up a diagram of a DNA strand that belonged to Kendrick Morris. 

He said, "This is the rapist. This is his DNA profile.  Think of your own social security card," he told the jury. "This is Kendrick Morris' DNA now and forever, and it's in the sexual battery kit."

The prosecution said that the chances the DNA did not belong to Morris was 1 in 320 quadrillion.

The defense based its case on timing. 

Public defenders for Morris said that after their client was seen on surveillance at a nearby McDonald's and Wal-Mart during the time that the crime took place, there's no way he could be there and the library at the same time.

Prosecutor Rocky Broncato said that the crime happened at the library at 10:15pm and that Morris was seen at the Wal-Mart at 10:22pm.  

 Broncato claims that there's no way his client could have committed the crime and gotten to the store in seven minutes.

The prosecution called a key witness from Wal-Mart to the stand to testify that during power surges, the time stamp resets itself and jumps forward an hour and roughly twelve minutes, much like a alarm clock that goes off during a storm.

The defense attorneys said they didn't buy it.

"He told you about power surges," Broncato said.  "Daylight saving time won't reset with power surges.  Daylight Saving time is an hour, not an hour and 12 minutes."

Broncato spent most of his closing statements talking to the jury about coming forward if they knew anything about the case or had heard anything about the case.

"As we have integrity in jurors, we need integrity in the crime scene as well. Kendrick exits Wal-Mart while this is going on," Broncato said.

Broncato continued, "This comes down to your word and your deed.  It's a forever experience.  We can make other arrangements if you know something.

In the end, the jury did not buy the defense's theory. The four women and two young men found him guilty.

The victim's sister told the media that she, herself, forgave Morris a long time ago.  "I think no matter what the verdict would have been, we're at peace. A long time ago, we put it away and forgave him."

Morris can not get life in prison without parole since he was a juvenile when he committed the crime.   Judge Chet Tharpe announced that he would set a sentencing date on October 12th.

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