Maryland Judge Joseph P. Manck sought to lessen the pain and frustration to the victims’ family by sentencing a defendant to life in prison without the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty. In choosing a life sentence for Brandon Morris for the murder of correctional officer Jeffrey Wroten, Judge Manck noted that appeals in death penalty cases can stretch on for years. He cited one case that has been going on for 25 years and said that victims’ families often must sit through painful retrials, listening to defendants “again, again and again.” Judge Manck told Wroten’s family that his mother was also murdered and that he understood their need for closure. However, Judge Manck noted, death penalty trials and appeals can last many years with multiple painful rehashings of the crime. He said, “It is an outrageous way to penalize victims.”

At the time of the crime, Morris was in Roxbury Correctional Institution, serving an eight-year sentence for assault and robbery. He shot Wroten to death as he escaped from prison. Morris was apprehended by police shortly after his escape. In making his decision, Judge Manck also cited mitigating factors in the case, including Morris’ abusive childhood. Morris had waived his right to sentencing by a jury.
(“Inmate Given Life Without Parole In 2006 Slaying of Roxbury Guard,” by Raymond McCaffrey, Washington Post, January 29, 2008). See New Voices, Victims, and Life Without Parole.