Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Kendrick Morris found guilty of brutal 2008 rape at Bloomingdale library

TAMPA — They've told her someone hurt her, leaving her this way. They told her there was a trial, and a prosecutor wore pink in her honor.

But the mother and sister of a young woman brutally attacked outside the Bloomingdale Regional Public Library aren't sure what to tell her about a verdict Wednesday that took jurors less than an hour to decide.

Kendrick Morris, 19, was guilty. Guilty of kidnapping her. Guilty of aggravated battery causing her great bodily harm. Guilty of raping her two different ways with great force.

The victim, now 20, suffered severe brain damage during the attack. She can't see, speak or eat on her own. Sometimes, she communicates by smiling, but it's unclear how much she understands.

She couldn't go to the trial.

She didn't see her sister crying in the front row of the courtroom, or the small army of her friends who filled the benches, there to witness and feel and understand what she couldn't.

The victim doesn't know just how big a role she played in bringing her attacker to justice.

"She can't talk to us now," prosecutor Michael Sinacore told jurors during closing statements. "But she did talk to us then."

The victim couldn't testify about the horrible things that happened to her the night of April 24, 2008. But through the evidence, he said, she told a story. She told it with her blood, with her injuries, with some of the last words she said before she screamed into a cell phone:

In front of the library, a "weird guy" was sitting on a bench.

Kendrick Morris was 16. Ten months earlier, he'd raped a day care worker. That night, as the 18-year-old East Bay High School student dropped off books outside the library, Morris caught her by surprise, Sinacore said. He broke her nose, fractured her skull, dragged her away from her car and left her broken.

She'd never be able to say she tried to defend herself, but she left a bloody handprint on a street sign. Sinacore suggested she grabbed it to try to keep Morris from pulling her into the dark field.

Morris' fingerprints were found on the bench. The victim's blood was found on his sweatshirt. His semen was swabbed from her body.

His public defender tried to convince the jury that Morris couldn't have committed a rape because a surveillance video showed him walking into a Walmart more than a mile away, a mere seven minutes after the attack began. But prosecutors said that time stamp was wrong, and the jury believed them.

A verdict came fast.

The victim's friends rushed back to the courtroom. Prosecutor Rita Peters reached for the victim's sister and held her hand.

Sobs erupted in the courtroom as guilty verdicts were read aloud. Morris showed no reaction. A judge said he will set a sentencing date next week.

The victim's sister text messaged her mother the news.

Every day, the mother had thought about that night and wondered who could do this to her daughter. Now, she had a definitive answer.

"I feel peace," the mother said. "Finally."

The mother said she once asked the young woman if she forgave the person who hurt her. She believes her daughter responded yes in the only way she could, with a smile.

Times staff writer Jessica Vander Velde contributed to this report. Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3354.

Kendrick Morris found guilty of brutal 2008 rape at Bloomingdale library 10/06/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 7:11am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Meet 'rave pops,' the EDM-loving, hard-dancing 72-year-old who went viral via the Sunset Music Festival (w/video)

    Music & Concerts

    Alan Grofé is a 72-year-old, semi-retired entrepreneur and former tech executive with frost-white hair, two grown children and five grandchildren.

    Alan Grofe dances at the Electric Daisy Carnival festival in Orlando in 2016. [aLIVE Coverage for Insomniac]
  2. Humana adding 200 telemarketing jobs in Tampa Bay

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Health insurance company Humana Inc. is hiring more than 200 workers in Tampa Bay. The Louisville, Ky.-based company said Wednesday that the new positions will focus on phone sales for Humana's direct marketing services department.

    Humana is adding 200 positions to its Tampa office. Theo Sai, chief medical officer for seniro products at Humana, is pictured in the company's Tampa executive office in 2015. | Rachel Crosby, Times
  3. Congressman wants Trump to pay for Mar-a-Lago travel

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON -- This bill won’t go anywhere, but give Rep. Alcee Hastings creative points with the TRUMPED Act, aka Taxpayers Require Urgent Mandatory Protection from Egregious Debt Act of 2017:

  4. U.S. President Donald Trump and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel walk together during arrival at Melsbroek Military Airport in Melsbroek, Belgium on Wednesday. US President Donald Trump is in Belgium to attend a NATO summit and to meet EU and Belgian officials. [AP photo]
  5. If Tony Dungy sticks around, he'll broadcast the 2021 Tampa Super Bowl for NBC

    Bucs

    Lost in the Super Tuesday news of the Super Bowl coming back to Tampa was this nugget:

    Pictured, from left, Dan Patrick, co-Host, Tony Dungy, studio analyst, Aaron Rodgers. [Ben Cohen/NBC]