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Friday, 1 February 2008

Brandon T. Morris

Brandon T. Morris, 22. the judge said factors, including Morris' emotional immaturity and his history of "staggering" childhood abuse, outweighed the state's arguments for execution
Manck also sentenced Morris to 301 years to run consecutive to his life term, ensuring, the judge said, that he will die in prison.
Morris, of Baltimore, was convicted by a Howard County jury Jan. 18 of first-degree murder for killing Jeffery A. Wroten, 44, of Martinsburg, W.Va., at Washington ounty Hospital in Hagerstown.
After shooting Wroten with the guard's gun early in the morning of Jan. 26, 2006, Morris briefly took a hospital visitor hostage, carjacked a taxi, and forced the cabbie at gunpoint to drive him into nearby Pennsylvania, where the car crashed. Morris fled back into Maryland, where he was captured in an industrial park.
Morris had been brought to the hospital from nearby Roxbury Correctional Institution after jabbing a sewing needle so deeply into his abdomen that it pierced his liver. Prosecutors maintained that the injury and the murder were parts of a carefully planned escape.
After the sentencing, Morris flashed a derisive grin at Wroten's family members as they filed past him on their way out of the packed courtroom.
Manck, whose mother was murdered during a 1995 home invasion, spoke directly to Wroten's family before passing sentence. He assured them that his "gut-wrenching" decision would free them to enjoy memories of their slain loved one without the distraction of legal proceedings.
But Wroten's ex-wife Tracey, with whom he had four daughters, ages 7-13, told reporters afterward that she was "disappointed and probably a little angry" that Manck hadn't sentenced Morris to death.
She said no one should pity Morris, whose courtroom behavior included extending a middle finger toward the family whenever he held an earphone to his head during bench conferences.
"There is nothing I could say that would express the anger I have toward him. I have no mercy for him. He didn't show my children's father mercy. I don't believe he deserves mercy," Tracey Wroten told reporters.
One of the slain officer's co-workers, Capt. Mark A. Martin, said Morris "presents an enormous risk" to those guarding him and an "enormous cost" to taxpayers due to the extra security needed to transport him to any hospital visits or court hearings. An attempted courtroom escape in May led to intense security for Morris during the trial, where at least a half-dozen uniformed officers were never less than a few feet from him.
Manck, a retired Anne Arundel County jurist, said a defense expert witness had convinced him that any threat of escape "can be minimized greatly" by the Division of Correction.
Outweighing the cost of securing Morris, Manck said, was the damage Morris had suffered as a child at the hands of an abusive mother, stepfather and neighborhood thugs, one of whom raped him at 12 or 13, according to a social worker's testimony. The abuse and neglect stunted Morris' emotional development, making him no more mature than a high-school student, Manck said.
"He had no family management. He had nothing," Manck said. Growing up right on the streets of Baltimore is "impossible when you have a family that doesn't give a damn about you," the judge said.
Defense attorney Arcangelo Tuminelli said the sentence was appropriate. He said a death sentence would have resulted in years, if not decades, of appeal procedures that would have been hard on Wroten's family. "I think Judge Manck did those people a favor," Tuminelli said.


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