MCKINNEY (CBSDFW.COM) – He could spend life in prison, or he could receive probation. Both those possibilities and a number of options in between are on the table now that Enrique Arochi was found guilty of aggravated kidnapping in the Christina Morris case.
After 17 hours deliberating on a verdict, the jury received a few days off, but when they return to court next week the decisions they have to make are challenging.
Arochi sat stone-faced Wednesday when the judge read the jury’s guilty verdict. The emotion was clear from the Morris family as the end of one chapter gave way to the beginning of the next, where the stakes are considered even higher. At one end of the sentencing spectrum, Arochi faces life in prison for aggravated kidnapping, but that’s only one possible outcome.
“If the jury comes back with 10 years or less, then they have to be willing to consider probation as an option,” defense attorney Stephanie Holan said.
Holan is not associated with the Arochi case, but she has followed the trial closely. She points out state law requires the jury to be open to punishment other than prison.
“As long as you’re looking at probation, there’s a chance for him to be out,” Holan said.
During the lengthy jury selection process, more than a dozen potential jurors admitted to the judge that if they found Arochi guilty of aggravated kidnapping, they would not be able to follow the law and consider probation as punishment. Now each of the six men and six women serving on the jury will have to follow strict guidelines.
Holan said the average sentence for aggravated kidnapping is around 40 years, and she believes based on the 17 hours Arochi jurors spent carefully considering their verdict, they’re more likely to lean toward heavier punishment.
“I just think that because this case is completely circumstantial, and there is not hard proof of what happened to Ms. Morris, when you don’t have that information, and they still came back with the guilty verdict, I don’t anticipate them recommending probation. It would seem too far a stretch,” Holan said.
Both sides are expected to call witnesses before the jury decides on a sentence. Morris family members will also be given an opportunity to give victim impact statements after the sentencing.
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