District Attorney Joel Smith announced today that Jonathan Morales, 19, was sentenced in the shooting death of his sister, at the Circuit Courthouse in Biloxi on Monday. Judge Lisa Dodson sentenced Morales to 20 years, the maximum sentence under Mississippi law for manslaughter. Judge Dodson suspended three of those years and ordered Morales to serve 17 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Biloxi Police originally arrested Morales on a charge of Manslaughter on May 30th, 2012, after being called to the home where Morales and his stepsister, Sadie Warden resided. Sadie was 13 years old at the time of her death. During the original plea hearing in February, Assistant District Attorney Scott Lusk advised the Judge that if the case had gone to trial, the State would have called witnesses to testify that Morales retrieved a shotgun from his parent’s bedroom in order to scare a friend who was also at the home.
Morales then walked to Sadie’s room, pumped the shotgun and pointed the shotgun at his sister. Morales told police he was trying to scare his sister with the shotgun. A.D.A. Lusk further advised the Judge that witness testimony would also show that the victim was sitting on her bedroom floor with her back to him.
The defendant then pulled the trigger and the shot struck the victim in her right posterior shoulder, causing her death. Lusk finally stated that testimony would show Morales then drug Sadie’s body outside of the residence and phoned 911. Morales then incorrectly told the 911 operator that Sadie was shot in a drive by shooting.
During the sentencing hearing on Monday, the Judge heard testimony from various family members and also from the Defendant before pronouncing her sentence. Morales will be placed on three years of probation once he is released from his 17-year prison term. He was also ordered to pay a fine and pay for funeral expenses.