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Morris found guilty

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@chronicle-tribune.com

The jury overseeing Scott Morris’ trial found him guilty as charged on Thursday after an hour of deliberation.

In 2014, Morris was charged with criminal deviate conduct after a fellow nurse at the Marion VA Hospital walked in on him performing oral sex on a patient. At the time, Morris was working in the dementia unit and had been for two months. He was tried in 2016, but the jury could not reach a verdict. A new jury was selected on Monday for his retrial, where he has been represented by private attorney Antonio Sisson, of Muncie.

Once the incident was reported, he was fired from the VA. His trial lasted until Thursday, when the jury concluded he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He could face up to 20 years for the class B Felony, and a hearing to determine when his sentencing will be is scheduled for Friday.

Grant County Prosecutor Jim Luttrull said he was pleased to know that the jury had reached a just conclusion to the retrial.

“In the last trial, there obviously was a lack of certainty among the jury that brought us here,” he said. “I believe the evidence we presented this time made for a very compelling case that allowed them to come to a unanimous and certain decision.”

In the previous trial, the jury was split 8-4. However, Luttrull said the DNA evidence presented before the jury played a key role in eliminating any doubt that Morris was guilty of violating a patient at the VA.

In his closing arguments Thursday, he said that DNA is a “silent witness,” meaning it does not forget and is not prone to changing its testimony due to emotions or excitement. The DNA evidence Luttrull presented in this case was collected from the victim’s genitals and tested at the Indiana State Police Laboratory in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. The lab concluded in October 2014 that DNA found on the victim’s groin matched that of Morris, a chance that Forensic Scientist Meredith Livingston said she expected to occur once in every 8 trillion people.

Despite Morris’ testimony that his DNA was found on the victim’s groin due to a severe coughing attack that occurred when he was changing the patient, and a testimony that conflicted with that of his former coworkers, the jury reached a decision in just over an hour.

His sentencing date will be determined at a hearing Friday. While he could face up to 20 years, some of that could be probated depending on court rulings. Morris will serve the time pending his sentencing in the Grant County Jail without bail.

Although the victim died in 2015, his family attended the trial until its conclusion. Luttrull said he felt proud to have been able to serve justice to the victim and bring a sense of closure to his family “now that this wrong has been righted.”