A Parker County jury convicted a 28-year-old Weatherford man of burglary of a habitation and sentenced him to the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison in a trial that concluded Tuesday night in District Court in Weatherford.
Christopher Dean Morris was convicted of burglarizing a home just south of the Weatherford city limits at night on December 28. The homeowner arrived while Morris was in his home and, after he saw a vehicle in the driveway that did not belong there, he called 911 and also asked a neighbor to come over, according to testimony during the trial. The neighbor arrived and they called Morris out of the home and held him at gunpoint with an AR-15 rifle that the neighbor brought with him until deputies with the Parker County Sheriff’s Office could arrive.
“Every burglary is dangerous, but those that happen at night have a much greater chance to turn out badly,” said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain, who prosecuted the case with Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Catania. “Under Texas law, with the facts of this case, the homeowner and the neighbor would have been justified if they had to shoot Mr. Morris. Thankfully for everyone, that did not happen.”
When deputies arrived, they checked the home for other suspects and then went about recovering the victim’s property from Morris’ car, where they found the victim’s shotgun, electronics, clothing, tools, and other assorted items. Inside the home, Morris had moved the victim’s pistol from the bedroom to a kitchen counter near the back door from which the homeowner and neighbor eventually got Morris to leave.
“Had Mr. Morris come to the door with the victim’s gun which he had placed nearby, this case could have turned out very differently,” Swain said.
In an odd twist, on the back sidewalk in chalk, Morris also apparently wrote “Do not enter” with an arrow pointing toward the back door to the home, Swain said.
“According to Mr. Morris’ testimony during the punishment phase of trial, he was high on methamphetamine at the time of the offense,” Catania said. “That is certainly consistent with some of his bizarre behavior in the commission of this crime. Meth users should know that, in Texas, voluntary intoxication is not a legal defense to their commission of a crime. It’s not a very good excuse either.”
During the punishment phase of the trial, the prosecution introduced evidence of Morris’ 13 prior convictions, including two felony drug offenses, theft, DWI, three misdemeanor drug offenses, evading arrest, and an assault family violence offense for which he was on probation at the time of the burglary.
“This defendant had spent about two years in taxpayer funded drug treatment programs during both felony and misdemeanor probated sentences,” Swain said. “He certainly can’t claim that the system has not tried to help him with his problem. He has just refused to quit using drugs and committing crime.”
Morris will be eligible for parole when he has served a quarter of his sentence, Swain said.
The case was tried in the 43rd District Court, Judge Craig Towson presiding.