TAMPA - Accused rapist Kendrick Morris stood in court Wednesday as defense lawyers and state prosecutors ironed out a list of details they needed to be addressed trial begins next week.
Morris is accused of raping a daycare worker. The incident happened in June 2007, before another attack on April 24, 2008 attack he was arrested for. In hopes of making sure the jury isn't unfairly swayed by the other rape case, defense attorneys brought up those possible issues to Judge Chet Tharpe.
The defense asked that DNA taken from Morris not be referenced that it was taken after he was arrested for raping and severely beating a teen at the Bloomingdale Library. Both sides agreed that was fine.
Also, photos of Morris that were taken just days after the Bloomingdale Library rape were used by detectives to help identify him as a suspect. Both sides agreed that the jury shouldn't be told those pictures were taken after that rape, to indicate he was in custody. His lawyers don't want what is called prejudicial issues to sway the jury before they can make a fair decision.
Judge Tharpe ruled that the jury should not be sequestered, despite a request from the defense. At a previous hearing, Assistant Public Defender Maria Pavlidis brought up the fact that she thought Morris' cases were high-profile. She said the community had raised money in different fundraisers for the library rape victim, and she was concerned about jurors who might know a lot about this case because of those fundraisers and news stories on the victim.
The victim was a high school senior about to drop off books the night of the attack when she was badly beaten and raped. She can no longer walk, talk or eat on her own and most of her vision is gone.
The judge ruled Wednesday morning that the jury won't be sequestered, but it is something he will observe. If something comes up and it appears that jurors need to be sequestered, Judge Tharpe said he will bring it up during trial.
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A warm and humid day with sun, clouds and a chance for showers and storms mainly in the afternoon. Storms won't be as numerous as yesterday.
North Manhattan Ave will be shut down from Sligh Avenue to Waters avenue for at least two hours following a two-alarm apartment fire in Tampa.