Conviction Without Evidence - The Gary Lee Morris Story

By Gary Lee Morris

Edited by Karyse Philips, JD Editor

Justice:Denied magazine, Issue 27, Winter 2005, page 15

In 1994 my mother was 80 and living on a fixed income. Along with her small social security check, she relied on payments she received from renting a mobile home to my daughter, Sherry. For thirteen years Sherry lived in the mobile home and met her obligations faithfully. Then in 1993 her boyfriend, Joe Piper, started staying with her sometimes. Joe was a loafer. He used drugs and didn’t maintain a regular job. Joe’s drug abuse quickly drove my daughter into debt. Soon she was behind on her utility bills and rent payments. For an entire year my mother suffered from a lack of an adequate income because my daughter was not paying rent. My mother’s social security check did not cover the taxes and other expenses that were piling up on her mobile home. My mother became desperate and in her desperation she decided to evict Sherry.

Sherry fought with me and the rest of our family all the time. With Joe’s arrival, Sherry had become another person. When we asked her about her failure to meet her obligation in rent payments to my mother, she would go into a rage and tell us to “butt out” of her business. She was out of control, but no one realized just how far out of control she had gotten until the police stormed in one day to arrest me.

In June 1994, I was cleaning my mother’s trailer. Sherry had been evicted and I was getting the mobile home ready for new tenants. I was in the back of the trailer vacuuming. Suddenly I heard a loud crash and then voices shouting out my name. There were state and local police everywhere. One of them grabbed me and handcuffed me while other officers went about searching for anyone else who might be present. I was terrified! I shouted, “What’s going on here?”

“You’re being arrested for raping your 13-year-old grand-daughter; that’s what’s going on here!” said one of the officers.

Terror swept through me. I could not believe this was happening. With the exception of a minor traffic ticket, I had never been in trouble with the law. Now I was being arrested based on an accusation of a major crime and being taken to jail.

The rest of the day I was in a fog. I remember being questioned by detectives and being accused of the most disgusting criminal acts imaginable - against my own granddaughter. I was arraigned on three counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the first degree and three counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the second degree. My bond was set at $300,000 and I was given a court-appointed lawyer. Three months later the bond was reduced to $150,000. I was released after my mother and I put up our houses for collateral and paid a bondsman $15,000.

While I was out on bond, I learned that the rape charges had been initiated the day before my daughter had been evicted from my mother’s trailer. When I discussed this with my court-appointed lawyer, he told me not to worry because the charges were obviously fraudulent and would be dismissed before the case went to trial. Six months later the prosecutor was attempting to negotiate a plea bargain in which I would serve a year in the county jail.

I refused to accept a plea bargain or admit to a crime for which I was not guilty. I made up my mind to go to trial. I could not believe a jury would convict an innocent man.

My trial lasted two days. It was a one-sided circus in which the prosecutor was the ringmaster. My lawyer sat there like a potted plant and offered no defense on my behalf. The prosecution claimed that, in March 1991, when my granddaughter was 10-years-old, she was sexually abused by me in my apartment. There was no physical evidence produced to support this claim. The prosecutor also claimed that in April 1992 I drove my granddaughter to school and that on the way there she performed oral sex on me. Evidence surfaced during the trial that showed that my daughter, Melody, drove my grand-daughter to school along with her two kids on that particular day, and that I was at home in my own apartment. The prosecutor also said that in September 1993 I had sexual intercourse with my granddaughter. This claim was impeached with conflicting statements and reports.

The physical evidence did not support the claims made by the prosecution. To the contrary, a report written by Dr. Charfoos, the doctor my granddaughter was taken to, shows that my granddaughter’s hymen was still intact at the time of her examination. In fact, Dr. Charfoos report shows no lacerations or lesions to indicate a rape had occurred.

The entire trial consisted of prosecutorial manipulation of the evidence that was designed to prejudice the jury. My lawyer sat there like a bump on a log and did nothing to contradict the prosecutor’s portrayal. The medical evidence established that after two-and-a-half years of alleged sexual assault my granddaughter was still a virgin. That one fact conclusively proves the alleged crimes were not committed against my granddaughter. Yet my court-appointed lawyer did not attempt to convey the exculpatory facts to the jury. Instead, he inexplicably let the prosecutor run the show in a most convincing way. The jury was not out more than three hours before they returned a verdict of guilty.

I was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed my conviction and sentence, and the Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal to that court. I am currently pursuing an appeal in the Federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

I am hopeful that someone on the outside will take up my cause and help me gather evidence that will satisfy a court of my innocence. One specific request I have, is if a qualified person will be willing to review the medical reports in my case and give an opinion on their contents. My daughter has those reports, and her address is below.

Thank you, for taking time to consider this travesty,

Please contact my other daughter for additional information
Melody Morris
123 N. Corbin
Holly, MI  48442