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COLLIN COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – A jury returned to a North Texas courtroom this morning to decide the punishment for Enrique Arochi after he was convicted of kidnapping Christina Morris, however, they must wait another day to make that decision.
The judge in the case was forced to delay the sentencing because he was too sick to continue Monday.
“In a nutshell, I’m sick as a dog,” he said, according to CBS 11 reporter Vanessa Brown.
Sentencing was expected to begin at 8:30 a.m., prompting speculation that a deal had been struck with Arochi in exchange for information about the case. According to Brown, that wasn’t the case, and the judge finally appeared in the court room two hours later.
The judge said the sentencing phase will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, and one of his colleagues will step in for him if he’s not available.
It was last Wednesday when Arochi sat stone-faced as a jury agreed he was responsible for Morris’s disappearance back in 2014. But the 26-year-old could walk out of the Collin County Courthouse. If jurors deciding his fate sentence Arochi to 10 years in prison or less, they must also be willing to consider probation.
Local attorney Stephanie Holan has been keeping a close eye on the case. “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.”
Arochi was the last person seen with Morris before she vanished. The two attended high school together. Cameras at The Shops at Legacy in Plano caught Arochi and Morris walking in a shopping center parking garage.
Arochi was arrested and charged after detectives found DNA matching Morris in the trunk of his car.
Morris’s stepmom, Anna Morris, is hoping for more answers after the sentencing, since the body of her stepdaughter has never been found. “It’s not over. It’s far from over. Christina is still missing,” she said. “I hope that this will possibly get us the information we need to bring her home.”
Both the prosecution and the defense are expected to call witnesses today and Morris’s family may give victim impact statements once a decision is reached.
Since he has been convicted of Aggravated Kidnapping, Arochi faces a punishment anywhere from probation to 99 years in prison.
The punishment phase of the trial is expected to last several days.
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