Man guilty in re­trial for knife at­tack

Ap­pel­late court de­ci­sion granted new trial

Maryland Independent - - News - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @An­drew_IndyNews

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.”

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