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Suspect in rape outside Bloomingdale library denied bond

VALRICO — The 16-year-old suspect accused of brutally raping and beating a girl outside a local library was denied bond in his first court appearance Sunday.

Kendrick D. Morris, a Bloomingdale High School freshman arrested Saturday by sheriff's deputies, is charged with two counts of sexual battery with great bodily harm, aggravated battery and kidnapping with intent to commit a felony. A juvenile court judge denied him bond, said Hillsborough County sheriff's spokesman J.D. Callaway.

Deputies said Morris attacked an unidentified 18-year-old returning books to the night drop box of the Bloomingdale Regional Public Library on Thursday.

The victim remained in critical but stable condition at Tampa General Hospital Sunday evening, Callaway said.

After an intensive manhunt, deputies arrested Morris at his Clair-Mel home at 4:15 a.m. Saturday. The State Attorney's Office will charge Morris as an adult at a later date, Callaway said.

About 10:40 p.m. Thursday, the victim was talking with a friend on her cell phone while she parked a white Toyota RAV4 about 3 feet from the night drop box.

She told her friend she saw a weird-looking man on a nearby bench. Then, deputies said, she screamed, there was a bell-like sound and the phone went dead.

Her friend and family rushed to the library, arriving within 20 minutes. The friend called 911.

Deputies found the victim about 200 feet from the library, unconscious and badly injured. Deputies searched the grounds and found the victim's purse.

They said interviews and evidence led them to Morris.

But his family members have accused authorities of arresting the wrong person and picking up Morris just because he frequents the library. Neighbors said he often waved and seemed friendly.

Morris was previously arrested for animal cruelty, records show, and his mother got out of jail about an hour before the assault at the library Thursday night.

Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at cshoichet@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2454.

Suspect in rape outside Bloomingdale library denied bond 04/27/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 8:46am]
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