Queena Phu was a bright and beautiful high school senior headed to the University of Florida before she was viciously attacked and raped by Kendrick Morris.
He was 16 and the year before had brutally raped an unidentified elderly woman who dedicated her time to working in a daycare center.
As a result of injuries sustained in the attack by Morris, Queena was left paralyzed, blind and mute. She requires constant care from her family. That is all that remained of her future after Morris’s attack that a Florida judge called, “heinous, atrocious and cruel.”
Morris received a sentence of 65-years in prison with the provision that the sentence be reconsidered in accordance with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that requires sentences for juvenile offenders be reviewed.
That review took place this week, but if Morris was looking for leniency, he was in the wrong courtroom as Judge Chet Tharpe dashed any hope for an early release.
As the convicted rapist stood expressionless, Judge Tharpe acknowledged that Morris was young when he committed the rapes and the brutal assault against Phu, but that was as far as the judge would go after considering the testimony of Phu’s family.
“The court finds that the nature of the defendants crimes in these two cases was especially heinous and brutal. The court finds the defendant’s crimes were sexually violent in nature. These crimes were particularly atrocious and cruel. Accordingly, life sentences are the only appropriate sentences in this case,” said Tharpe.
While Queena’s family, who was in court for the ruling, was relieved to hear the sentence upheld, her sister, Anna, said both lives received “life sentences.”
“I want to say that it’s a victory, but it seems wrong to say that I believe justice was served, but in the end, both lives are sentenced life.”
And although Morris’s sentence will be reviewed again in 2037, Anna said there is no review of the sentence her sister, Queena, and the family are serving.
“This is not a joyous moment for us in any sense. We will have to take care of Queena forever and nothing has changed for us in that aspect.”