Jury finds man guilty of murdering 13-year-old girl

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – After two days of deliberations, a jury found a Buffalo man accused of stabbing a 13-year-old girl to death last year guilty.

A jury found DarShawn Morris guilty of second degree murder, rape and criminal sexual assault. He killed 13-year-old Lanasha Rollerson, whose body was found behind a garage near his home. Rollerson had attended a house party without her family’s knowledge. Police say the 21-year-old man raped her then stabbed the teen more than 60 times.

Prosecutors say despite physical evidence and Morris’ own statements to police, it was not a “slam dunk” case.

“This was heinous. This is one of the worst ones we’ve seen in a very long time,” said Erie County Assistant District Attorney James Bargnesi. “People underestimate the difficulty of being a juror in a criminal case, and especially a case of this magnitude, with these injuries, with this level of tragedy. It’s worse than even your average murder case, and they were diligent about it.”

Police say Morris confessed to killing Rollerson. But on the witness stand, he pointed the finger at someone else.

“If you compare those statements that he made with the physical evidence that was found at the crime scene, it’s clearly inconsistent on many, many, many different points,” said defense attorney Robert Cutting.

So why would Morris confess?

Defense attorney Emily Trott said, “A murder is committed in your own house, with your DNA all over the place. Who’s going to believe that someone else did it? It was a hard, long shot from the very beginning.”

A jury spent two and a half hours on Thursday attempting to reach a verdict, but did not come to a decision by 4:30 p.m. At one point, jurors requested a portion of the testimony be read back.

Deliberations continued for around three hours on Friday before jurors reached a decision.

Morris faces 37 years to life when he is sentenced next month. His attorneys say they will appeal his conviction.

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