A 25-year-old Baltimore man was sentenced to 18 years in prison yesterday for raping a 16-year-old blind girl last March in his car in the Harundale Mall parking lot.
Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. handed down the sentence during an emotional hearing in which both the defendant and his mother tearfully denied the man's guilt.
Byron Charles Morrow was convicted of first-degree rape in September. A co-defendant in the case, Philip Michael Saunders, 19, was also convicted; he is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 3, said Assistant State's Attorney Cynthia M. Ferris.
Testimony in the two trials showed the girl was introduced to Saunders through a telephone "party line," prompting Morrow and Saunders to make an afternoon visit to her Glen Burnie home last St. Patrick's Day. The girl testified Morrow, whom she knew by the nickname "Bear," drove her and Saunders to the mall parking lot, where they both raped her in the man's Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
In their defense, both men described the girl as a willing sexual partner. The girl testified she can see only large forms, and then only in bright light. During his trial, Morrow said, "I could tell she was a little cross-eyed or had a lazy eye, but I know a lot of people like that and they can see fine."
Morrow had faced up to life in prison for first-degree rape. Sentencing guidelines, which considered that his prior criminal record was minor, showed he should receive from 18 to 25 years in prison, Ferris said.
The prosecutor asked for 25 years. Before sentencing Morrow to 18 years, Judge Thieme told the sobbing mother he agreed with the jury's verdict.