MCKINNEY (CBSDFW.COM) – The jury won’t decide convicted aggravated kidnapper Enrique Arochi’s punishment. Arochi on Tuesday morning waived his right to a jury sentencing, leaving his fate in the hands of the judge. That sentence is expected to come down at 9 a.m. on Friday morning.
Jury members were dismissed after the Tuesday announcement was made. “Your job is done,” said Judge Mark Rusch, adding that the jurors are now free to discuss the case since they have been released from duty.
“It was emotional exhausting… mentally exhausting,” said juror #1, William Newbill, who sat through two weeks of testimony. “There were times when we were going back and forth. There were times when people got emotional.”
Newbill said one juror in particular needed convincing more than the others that all of evidence was circumstantial – and a man’s future was at stake.
“There were several people who were tearing up. It got pretty intense,” said Newbill.
But after 10 straight hours it was the DNA evidence found on the inside and outside of Arochi’s trunk that convinced jurors Arochi was guilty, according to Newbill.
“DNA evidence is very compelling evidence, and I think for a lot of us, that was the real kicker,” said Newbill.
In addition to jurors, Judge Rusch also spoke with Arochi and explained how he would decide on a punishment, which could be anywhere between five to 99 years behind bars. “I will be sending you to prison,” the judge stated, putting to rest any hope that Arochi may have had for being placed under community supervision.
“I have never ever been more confident in a conclusion in my life,” said Newbill about the judge’s decision.
Arochi was the last person seen with 23-year-old Christina Morris before she vanished from a parking garage at The Shops at Legacy in Plano. The two had been former high school classmates. Cameras caught Arochi and Morris walking together inside of the parking structure more than two years ago.
After police found the matching DNA samples in the trunk of Arochi’s car, he was arrested for aggravated kidnapping. Arochi had denied having anything to do with the case, and the location of the victim’s body is still a mystery. But the jury last week found him guilty of the crime. Arochi sat stone-faced as the verdict was read.
Family members of Morris wiped away tears and hugged each other as they exited the courtroom that day. “It’s not over. It’s far from over. Christina is still missing,” added Anna Morris, the victim’s stepmother. “I hope that this will possibly get us the information we need to bring her home.”
Jury sentencing was originally intended to start on Monday morning, but the judge was forced to delay those proceedings due to illness. “In a nutshell, I’m sick as a dog,” he said. The announcement on Tuesday morning came before jury sentencing had ever gotten underway.