McKINNEY, Texas - The man convicted of kidnapping Christina Morris two year ago will be sentenced by a judge later this week.
In court Tuesday morning, Enrique Arochi said he wanted to waive his right to a jury sentence. He told the judge that he was not pressured or coerced into making the decision and he understands it means he no longer has the possibility of probation.
Judge Mark Rusch approved Arochi’s request. He thanked members of the jury for their service and dismissed them.
“You job is done,” he told jurors.
Morris' mother and the rest of her family are still waiting to learn how long Arochi will spend behind bars for the kidnapping.
They jury of six men and six women found Arochi guilty of aggravated kidnapping last Wednesday. He was the last person to be seen with her as she was leaving a parking garage in Plano in August 2014. Her body was never found, but her DNA was found in the trunk of his car.
Sentencing was supposed to start on Monday but was delayed because the judge was sick.
“A defendant is allowed to change his decision and then go from the jury and then have a judge decide his punishment,” explained Attorney Toby Shook who is not involved in the case. “The state must agree to that, and they usually do.”
Because Arochi has no prior convictions, the jury could have considered probation. But, by law, it's now off the table. The judge must sentence Arochi from 5 years to 99 years in prison.
“I’m sure what Arochi might be thinking is if this jury convicted him of aggravated kidnapping then in doing so they actually believe he committed the murder of the victim, and therefore are more likely to give a life sentence,” said Shook.
Arochi's attorneys also declined to comment, and only one juror spoke briefly on camera.
“It was a great trial,” said juror William Newbill. “Both the defense and the prosecution I thought did very competent jobs and great judge presiding.”
Another juror who did not want to be named said he stepped in when a female juror became sick and was dismissed. He says there wasn't any one piece of evidence that swayed the group.
“When you have jurors that are divided, you get lots of notes, lots of conflicts in testimony, notes about we're divided on this issue,” said Shook. “You didn't get any of that, so this was a situation of them being very thoughtful and carefully working through the details of this circumstantial evidence case.”
The judge now plans to review the case and hand down a sentence on Friday. Arochi faces up to life in prison.