Kendrick Morris guilty in daycare rape trial

5:37 PM, Sep 2, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Guilty on all counts. That's the verdict a jury handed down to Kendrick Morris, convicting him of the rape and robbery of a 62-year-old daycare worker in 2007. 

Morris showed no emotion as the verdict was read.

The case went to the jury around 12:14 p.m. after about three hours of closing arguments.

Morris was accused of forcing his way into the Children's Lighthouse Daycare Center in the Clair-Mel area, as the woman tried to open the center for the morning.

It was supposed to be her second to last day before retiring from the daycare.

Investigators say the masked suspect held the woman at knife point, first demanding money from her before he pushed her into a classroom and raped her.

For 10 months, detectives had no leads or suspects until a DNA match in another rape case of a teenager outside the Bloomingdale Library in 2008.

The teenaged victim in the library case was so badly beaten, she can no longer see, walk or eat on her own.

Investigators say the foreign DNA found on both victims belongs to Kendrick Morris.

An FDLE crime lab analyst testified on  Wednesday that there's a one in 320 quadrillion chance that DNA matches someone other than Kendrick Morris, who is now 19-years-old.

The jury in the daycare case is not hearing about the DNA link to the library rape.

Holding up a sexual battery kit used to collect DNA evidence and the DNA swabs taken from Kendrick Morris 10 months after the crime, prosecutor Mike Sinacore told the jury, "These two things prove conclusively beyond any reasonable doubt who did it."

But, the defense told the jury to consider its argument that the DNA was mishandled and contaminated.

"What you didn't hear ladies and gentlemen over the course of this case was how these items of evidence were handled before they got to FDLE.  We know that they sat in peoples cars several times, we don't know if they were handled with gloves.  We don't know how those items went from the car to FDLE," said Morris' defense attorney, Maria Pavilidis.

It was not enough to convince the jury who found Morris guilty on all counts against him:  armed burglary of a structure, attempted armed robbery, two counts of sexual battery and one count of attempted sexual assault.

Morris is scheduled to go to trial for the library rape at the end of the month.

Laura Kadechka, 10 News

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