Texas’ highest criminal appeals court last week declined to hear the appeal of a 36-year-old Weatherford man sentenced to life in prison for choking his six-month-old daughter, leaving her blind and with severe brain damage.
“This was an awful case that we tried in April 2016 in which a little girl named Shelbie had her entire future shattered in an instant by her own father, Robert Brandon Morris,” said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain, who tried the case for the prosecution.
“Shelbie was a normally developing baby until one day, when Mr. Morris wanted to sleep and couldn’t get her to stop crying, he choked her and violently slammed her onto a bed. As a result, Shelbie is now blind and suffers what neurologists with Cook Children’s Hospital described as a devastated brain. She will suffer from profound developmental issues for the rest of her life.”
Morris has been jailed since his daughter was injured in January 2015.
In June, the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth heard and denied Morris’ appeal.
In that ruling, they rejected his contention that 43rd District Judge Craig Towson should have stricken a potential juror who was vacillating on whether he could consider the entire range of punishment.
They also overruled Morris’ claim that prosecutors inappropriately commented on his decision not to testify during closing argument. Viewed in context, the prosecutor’s argument was actually referring to a statement that Morris gave to Weatherford police detectives.
“There was no error in the trial court’s judgment,” the appeals court concluded in its ruling.
“Although he could appeal to the United States Supreme Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decision likely ends Mr. Morris’ appellate process, affirming his conviction and life sentence,” Swain said. “That means that the jury’s verdict will stand and Mr. Morris will not be eligible for parole until 2045.”