Trigger warning: This article contains information about graphic violence.
Bloomingdale Library attack survivor Queena Phu's attacker from the night of April 24, 2008, was identified as Kendrick Morris, a mere 16-year-old teenager. He reportedly attacked Phu outside Bloomingdale Regional Library in the dark of the night. Then-18-year-old Queena drove to the library that night to return the book she had borrowed. She was brutally assaulted and r*ped.
A search party soon reached the venue and saw her car door open along with her phone and blood on the ground. A while later, the concerned family and friends found her senseless, paralyzed, and blinded behind the public library. The incident shook Brandon, Florida, a once-peaceful community.
In 2011, Morris was found guilty of r*ping two women ten months apart and was sentenced to 65 years in prison. Over a decade later, Lifetime's true-crime series #TextMeWhenYouGetHome, is set to revisit the assault case of Queena Phu.
Queena Phu's attacker, Kendrick Morris, was re-sentenced to life in prison
In 2017, Kendrick Morris was brought before the judge a second time as a result of developing laws that undermined outdated statutes guiding the sentencing of juveniles found guilty of major offenses. Several rulings by the U.S. and Florida Supreme Courts prohibited sentences that provide young people no realistic hope of freedom.
The state legislature responded by amending the legislation to provide life sentences on the condition that judges must take the defendant's age, maturity, and intellectual ability into account. Additionally, the new rule mandates that juveniles who have been given life sentences have their cases examined after a certain period of time.
In the midst of it all, Morris delivered his opening statement and appealed to the court. When deciding on a fresh sentence, the judge sometimes displayed emotion, stopping to describe the circumstances surrounding the s*xual assault on Queena Phu, the victim's injuries, and her ongoing physical limitations. The 40-minute session was spent with Morris standing still behind his public lawyer.
Following rulings that deemed harsh sentences for minors unlawful without the possibility of parole, the defense requested that Judge Chet Tharpe shorten Morris' sentence. However, Tharpe, who had previously sentenced Kendrick Morris to 65 years in prison in 2011, gave him a life term instead.
Judge Tharpe reportedly stated:
"These crimes were particularly atrocious and cruel. These crimes were not youthful indiscretions. If ever there was a case that cried out for a life sentence, this is the case."
Responding to the sentencing, Queena Phu's sister, Anna Donato, said,
"It's not a joyous moment in any sense for us. We're still going to have to go back home and take care of Queena forever. I want to say that it's a victory but it seems wrong to say that. My heart breaks for him. But I believe the sentence was just. We forgive him and we have compassion for him, but that does not mean we think he should be out of prison."
Getting emotional while talking about Phu's present state, she added,
"We feel like she is serving a life sentence she will not get the opportunity to get a re-sentencing and there are a lot of things that she can't do that he can."
Kendrick Morris, who was convicted for r*ping two women, a 62-year-old worker at a Clair-Mel day care and 18-year-old Queena is currently serving life in prison. As per reports, his case will be up for re-examination in 2031.
#TextMeWhenYouGetHome on Lifetime will air episode 10, revisiting Queena Phu's story this Monday, August 15, at 9 pm ET.