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Violent rapist Kendrick Morris resentenced to life in prison

Posted at 5:28 AM, Mar 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-09 17:12:22-05

UPDATE:

Judge Chet Tharpe, who originally sentenced Kendrick Morris in 2011 to 65 years in prison, has sentenced him to life in prison on Thursday. 

Queena Vuong, the victim who then 16-year-old Morris smashed in her skull and raped, is now blinded and paralyzed. She can't speak or even swallow on her own

"She expresses with facial expressions and sounds, yelling out, crying,” said the victim’s sister, Anna Donato. "We forgive him and we have compassion for him but that does not mean we believe he should be out of prison.” 

Today Morris' attorneys rolled the dice for less.

"I had no idea what to expect,” said Donato.

The defense asked Judge Chet Tharpe to reduce Morris' sentence after U.S. and Florida Supreme Court decisions declaring lengthy punishments for juveniles unconstitutional without a chance of release.

"These crimes were not youthful indiscretions,” said Judge Tharpe.

Two teens and their families, sitting on opposite sides of the courtroom, would find out if the law would work in their favor.

"If ever there was a case that cried out for a life sentence, this is the case,” said Tharpe.

|NOW| Judge: If ever a case cried out for a life sentence, this is it https://t.co/q7aHWAPNPX pic.twitter.com/T9RfBLhyRd

— CarsonChambers (@CarsonChambers) March 9, 2017

The law prevented Judge Tharpe from giving Morris life back in 2011. 9 years later changes mean she not only could reduce, she could lengthen it.

"It's not a joyous moment in any sense for us. We're still going to have to go back home and take care of Queena forever,” said Donato.

Two life sentences-- one in a prison cell, the other in her own body.

"I want to say that it's a victory but it seems wrong to say that,” said Donato.

Morris will be able to have a sentence reviewed again in 2031.

 

Original Story:

A violent rapist who attacked an elderly woman and a high school senior when he was a teenager will be resentenced on Thursday in Hillsborough County court.

Kendrick Morris was 15 and 16 when he committed the crimes against two Bay area women. One of them, 18-year-old Queena Vuong, was beaten so badly that to this day she's blind, paralyzed and needs 24/7 care.

Judge Chet Tharpe, who originally sentenced Morris in 2011 to 65 years in prison, is the judge who will resentence Morris at 8:30am Thursday.

RELATED | Bloomingdale library rapist Kendrick Morris to be resentenced on March 9th

Judge to resentence Kendrick Morris

The resentencing comes after U.S. and Florida Supreme Court decisions that declared it unconstitutional to give juveniles lengthy punishments without a chance of release.

Across Florida, close to 300 inmates convicted as teens, suddenly became eligible for new sentences.

Morris's attorneys want Judge Tharpe to knock decades off his sentence arguing their client is a changed man. Morris is now 25, with a high school diploma, an above average IQ, and an almost clean prison record. Doctors who testified recently at a hearing told the judge Morris could be rehabilitated. Prosecutors want a life sentence.

According to the law, the judge could shorten or lengthen Morris's sentence. Morris could get life in prison but only with the provision that his case will be reviewed in 20 years.

According to the Florida Juvenile Resentencing and Review Project at Florida International University, more than 2 dozen juvenile offenders in Florida have already been re-sentenced since the high court's ruling and more than half have gotten life terms.