A decorated U.S. Marine confronted two people after they broke into his Houston area home. It cost the veteran his life.
Now, one of the suspects will head to prison for the rest of his.
This month, Dwayne Ernest Wharton, 22, was sentenced for killing Leandro Morales Jr., 47, according to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. Wharton was previously convicted by a jury of capital murder.
Investigators said Wharton and another man smashed through Morales’ back door in November 2018.
The Marine confronted the attackers, who chose the house randomly, according to prosecutors. Morales’ wife saw a red dot from a laser sight on her husband before he was shot.
“A Harris County jury made the right decision in locking this brazen and violent criminal behind bars for the rest of his life,” District Attorney Kim Ogg said in announcing the sentence. “A person who breaks into a home at 11:30 a.m. on a Thursday with a loaded pistol with a laser sight obviously has bad intentions, and the consequences have to match the crime.”
The other suspect, Bobby Joe Turner, was also charged with murder and his case is pending.
Morales was married for 26 years and served four years as an active-duty U.S. Marine, according to prosecutors. He had medals and awards mounted in a frame on the wall of his home. He served in the 2nd Tank Battalion during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq.
Assistant District Attorney Garret Moore was one of the prosecutors on the case and said jurors were deliberate in their decision.
“We want to thank the jury for their complete attention,” Moore said. “It was clearly a weighty decision for them, and they really did their due diligence in coming to their verdict.”