[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----TEXAS
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Nov 2 22:20:51 CST 2004
Inmate has been executed for Houston man's death
A man condemned for the stabbing and beating of a 70-year-old man was
executed Tuesday night. When asked by the warden if he had a final
statement, Lorenzo Morris, 52, replied, "No."
As the lethal drugs began to flow, Morris closed his eyes. He took 1 deep
breath and sputtered twice before being pronounced dead 6 minutes later at
6:13 p.m. CST.
2 of victim Jesse Fields' granddaughters and his daughter witnessed the
execution. Morris' family visited with him earlier in the day but did not
witness the execution.
Morris had asked that no last-day appeals be filed to try to block his
Morris' attorney, Rob Morrow, said his client made the request in order to
spare his family any additional "despair or upset."
"He let me know that he had made peace with the situation," Morrow said
Tuesday of his final visit with Morris. "We don't agree with what has
happened, but we understand it."
The former laborer and Nacogdoches native already had arrests for assault,
robbery, weapons and drug possession, and had served at least two prison
terms when he was arrested for stabbing and beating Fields with a hammer.
When Fields died nine months after the August 1990 attack, Morris wound up
charged with capital murder, was convicted and condemned. He was already
serving a life sentence for the robbery of a coin-operated laundry where
the clerk was shot twice but survived.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 6-0, refusing to either
commute Morris' death sentence to life in prison or grant a temporary
reprieve. The U.S. Supreme Court last month declined to review his case.
Last week, in another Harris County case, condemned inmate Dominique Green
won a temporary reprieve in an appeal that cited problems at the Houston
Police Department crime lab as reason to halt his punishment.
Green's lawyers contended boxes of improperly stored and catalogued
evidence kept by the crime lab and recently discovered could contain
information relevant to his case and the injection should be delayed at
least until the contents of those files could be inspected. State lawyers
won an appeal that overturned the reprieve and Green was executed.
Morris' case falls into the same time frame for the contested lab files,
although prosecutors said they had accounted for all the evidence
presented in his case.
Morris didn't want to go through the same uncertainty faced by Green, who
lived a few cells down from him, Morrow said.
Court records indicated Morris, who contended he became a drug addict
while serving in the military in Vietnam, blamed Fields' death on poor
health care after the beating. Fields died a day after doctors had to
amputate a leg that had become infected.
Previous unsuccessful appeals also said jurors in his case should have
been allowed to hear he had been affected by the deaths of his two sisters
in a house fire and that his mother was an alcoholic who often neglected
Fields was in a coma when Morris was arrested in March 1991 for shooting
the coin-operated laundry operator. In interviews with police, Morris told
them about the attack on Fields, but contended the victim first had come
at him with the hammer, according to prosecutors.
His girlfriend at the time, however, testified she saw Morris sitting on
the elderly man while holding a knife and demanding to know where he kept
his money. She said she never called police because she feared for her own
Morris becomes the 19th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Texas and the 332nd overall since the state resumed capital punishment on
December 7, 1982. Morris becomes the 93rd condemned inmate to be put to
death since Rick Perry became governor in 2000; at least 5 more executions
are set in Texas before the end of the year. Morris becomes the 77th
condemned inmate to be put to death after being convicted in Harris
County; only the state of Virginia has executed more people (94) than the
Harris County jurisdiction.
Morris becomes the 54th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA and the 939th overall since America resumed executions on January
On Thursday, inmate Robert Brice Morrow, 47, was set to die for the
abduction and fatal beating and slashing of a 21-year-old University of
Nevada-Las Vegas student, Lisa Allison, who was at home in Liberty County
east of Houston on spring break in 1996.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
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