Bloomingdale rapist Kendrick Morris could be granted early releaseBy: FOX 13 News staff
TAMPA (FOX 13) - The man who raped, beat and left a teen girl for dead outside a public library eight years ago could be granted a reduced sentence next month, thanks to a Supreme Court decision.
In 2008, Kendrick Morris -- then 16 years old -- was convicted for a brutal rape that left a young woman blind and paralyzed for life.
He attacked high school student Queena Phu as she was dropping off books at the Bloomingdale Regional Public Library in Valrico. Morris dragged her behind the building, where he raped and beat Queena so violently, he robbed her of the ability to see, talk or walk on her own.
Morris was convicted and sentenced to 65 years in prison for that crime and another rape.
Nearly a decade since his crime, Morris, now 25, appeared in court Thursday to ask for a lesser sentence.
This comes after a Supreme Court ruling from last year that determined lengthy sentences for juvenile offenders are unconstitutional, and that they should have the opportunity for parole.
Thursday in court, Queena’s mother made a tearful statement, begging the judge to keep Morris locked up.
She said, “I have come to accept our situation, but I will never accept letting this person go free — ever. If my daughter cannot get a resentencing, he shouldn't.”
Queena’s family and friends called Morris a "violent monster" who didn't take away her life, but took away her future. They say she is serving a life sentence of her own. She can't walk, talk or see. She has close to 20 doctors and needs a lifetime of therapy, as well as 24-hour-a-day care.
Her care costs $80,000 out of pocket each year, and the family relies largely on donations through www.JoinQueena.com, though they say donations have slowed over the years.
The defense had two psychologists testify that Morris was mentally and physically abused by his mother and stepdad for years. That abuse, they say, caused Morris to lash out and become violent.
Both doctors said that Morris is on his way to full rehabilitation, and that he can become a productive member of society and no threat to the community.
But a re-sentencing hearing could go both ways. While Morris is seeking less time in prison, the judge could very well sentence him to more — even life in prison.
The judge will decide on March 9.
Editor's note: FOX 13 does not normally identify sexual assault victims, but the victim and her family in this case have publicly spoken out.
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