Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Brick through window notice startles victims

Texas VINE Service notified people that a convicted child rapist was “released” from the McLennan County Jail

One sometimes marvels at the imprecision of the choice of words used in important government announcements.



“This email is to inform you of the recent release from custody of Benjamin Morrison from the McLennan County Jail on 5/25/2011.

“If you have any questions, you may contact the McLennan County Jail at 254-757-2555.


“Texas Statewide VINE Service”

Benjamin Morrison plead guilty to four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a female victim who was less 14 years of age, offenses which took place over a 5 year period, in exchange for a chance at parole.

Prosecutors agreed to drop a single count of continuing sexual abuse of a child – an offense that can result in life imprisonment without the possibility of parole - in exchange for his guilty plea.

Victims statewide received the laconic notice quoted above, the ambiguity of which led them to believe that the convicted rapist had been released from custody before he ever saw the Texas Department of Corrections.

The misinformation generated considerable heat and light, to say the least.

One even contacted The Legendary to inform us that we accepted money in exchange for helping Mr. Morrison receive his imagined release.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We of The Legendary received no funds from any person or organization for producing this series of stories - or any other.

A quick call to the records division of the McLennan County Sheriff's Department confirmed that Mr. Morrison, 39, had indeed been released – to the custody of the Texas Department of Corrections, which transported him to the system's Diagnostic Unit for processing and classification as he begins what will probably be a lengthy period of imprisonment for the crimes for which he admitted culpability.

The offender was accused of the ongoing sexual assaults, most of which occurred during a period when he was a student living in the married housing section of Texas State Technical College on the campus of the former Tom Connelly Air Force Base at Bellmead, following his service in the U.S. Army during Operation Desert Storm.

Prosecutors prepared an extensive case against the defendant, including witness testimony from experts who examined the victim and were prepared to answer questions put to them by prosecutors and defense counsel regarding the hearsay statements of the child.

Such procedures are allowed under an exception to the hearsay testimony exclusionary rule.

The evening before the scheduled jury trial, Mr. Morrison changed his plea to guilty in exchange for a lack of prosecution for the first count, that of ongoing sexual abuse of a child of less than 14 years of age.

Mr. Morrison still faces possible prosecution for another offense involving another child victim.

He had enjoyed a considerable period of freedom following his release from custody on a Writ of Habeas Corpus when the Grand Jury failed to indict him for the offenses for which he had been charged. Mr. Morrison was living in the Bruceville-Eddy area and working at Acer Computers in Temple until the McLennan County Grand Jury returned an indictment and authorities re-arrested him on the charges.

Yesterday, Criminal District Attorney Abel Reyna assured media outlets in the area that he is vigorously pursuing prosecution in a backlog of more than 1,100 felony cases left on the back burner due to a lack of indictment by his predecessor, John Segrest, who occupied the office of DA for more than 20 years prior to Mr. Reyna's election in November of 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment