After almost five years on the run from authorities after being convicted of sexually assaulting an 11-year old boy, a man formerly of Harker Heights finally received his just due on being sentenced to a lengthy prison term on Aug 19.
Steven Dwight Morrow, 41, was indicted in July 2008 on a charge of aggravated sexual assault.
In November 2010, Morrow entered a plea of no contest to the charge and was scheduled to appear for sentencing in Judge Fancy Jezek’s 426th District Court soon after. Morrow failed to appear and was a fugitive from justice until January 2015, when police caught up to him in Pierce County, Wash.
According to an arrest affidavit, police were contacted by the child’s mother after the victim told her of sexual contact with Morrow. The affidavit said the boy, then 11 years old, was at Morrow’s home in Harker Heights with other children and that Morrow took the victim to a back room where guns were located and forced oral sex on the boy.
The victim told investigators that Morrow performed oral sex on him and that Morrow “had stuck a knife in the door frame so the door could not be opened.”
Also derived from the arrest affidavit, the boy’s mother said that when she came to Morrow’s home to get the boy, he was in the back room with Morrow and he appeared to be in fear when he exited the room.
Police said they observed marks consistent with a knife in the door frame as the boy described.
Previous Herald reports indicate that Morrow was arrested by Pierce County Sheriff’s Department in Washingtom state after a caller reported his whereabouts after seeing Morrow’s photograph on Fugitive.com’s facebook page. Morrow was using an alias name to rent an apartment with another fugitive sex offender who had an arrest warrant from Idaho. Birds of a feather truly flock together!
On Aug 18, Judge Jesek allowed prosecutors to withdraw their original plea agreement with Morrow and in exchange for a plea of guilty, agreed not to prosecute an additional alleged sexual assault crime together with his charge of bail jumping from 2010.
Judge Jesek sentenced Morrow to 35 years imprisonment.
Regardless of how one might view this relatively light sentence in view of Morrow’s other alleged and unprosecuted crimes, the decisions of the judge and the prosecutor are firm and final.
My concerns lie with the possible shortening of the 35-year sentence through the penal system policy of good-time reductions and the possibility of this criminal re-offending at some future date.
I am aware that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice offers and sometimes requires counseling for sex offenders as a condition of any petition for parole. In this case, I fervently hope they do and of equal importance, I hope the counseling accomplishes its objective.
John Vander WERFF is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, with a decade in city and county law enforcement and 20 years with state police.