Man guilty in retrial for knife attack
Appellate court decision granted new trial
Retried after his at- tempted murder convic- tion was reversed due to erroneous jury instruction, a Waldorf man was found guilty of first-degree assault and prompt- ly sentenced on Feb. 3 in Charles County Circuit Court for a 2014 stabbing.
After a two day trial, a jury found Kenny Earl Morris, 56, guilty of first-degree assault for a 2014 incident in which he repeatedly stabbed a man during an argument over a parking spot, court proceedings showed. The day after the verdict, Judge James West handed down a 20 year sentenced with all but nine years suspended.
Morris had previously been sentenced by West to 30 years with all but nine years suspended for his second-degree attempted murder conviction following the first trial in 2015, according to a Maryland Court of Special Appeals opinion. However, West — who instructed the jury on the elements of perfect self-defense before they deliberated — did not instruct the jurors on imperfect self-defense. West instead ruled in favor of the state, which argued the additional instruction was not appropriate, the opinion indicates.
The appellate court found that West erred in his decision and granted Morris another trial because he had testified that the victim had been choking him, although that contradicted the account given by the victim.
On Jan. 31, 2014, Charles County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the 1500 block of Bryan Court in Waldorf for a reported assault, according to proceedings. A 57-year-old man was found suffering from multiple stab wounds, and he was transported to an area hospital.
The victim told police that Morris appeared drunk when he was con- fronted by him about parking in an unassigned parking spot that Morris frequently used outside the apartment complex. After a verbal dispute, a physical altercation en- sued, and at some point, Morris pulled out a knife and began stabbing him. After the attack, the vic- tim found part of the blade lodged in his neck and had been cut on his arm, back, face and neck.
“I hate to see the man’s freedom taken” but it’s necessary, the victim told the court before sentencing.
“I’m very sorry for it,” said Morris, who apologized to the victim and his family. “I am very remorseful for everything.”
“God knows what’s in my heart, your honor,” Morris continued, “and I’m very sorry.”
After hearing from both sides, West spoke of the senselessness of the incident before handing down his sentence.
“It’s a terrible reason for someone to go to the hospital, and it’s a terrible reason to go to jail,” West said. “There have been two juries that basically believed that the actions of Mr. Morris were extreme,” noting that the jury found Morris to be the aggressor who introduced deadly force into the altercation.
West also made note of the “vicious and heinous” conduct of the act, how it affected family members involved in the case, and concluded that there was “no real good reason for this situation to have occurred.”