Judge William Condon sentenced Kalila Taylor, who was convicted twice for the 1996 murder of Curtisha Morning, to the maximum term she could have received – 25 years to life – on Thursday.
"Ms. Taylor has not shown any remorse and I'm not inclined to show her any leniency," Condon said.
Taylor was smiling as she entered the courtroom wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt, covered by a patterned blouse.
During an emotional sentencing, Patrina Morning, Curtisha's sister, cried while speaking to the judge, remembering a young girl who walked to church on Sundays. When she died, Morning said, "Everything was taken away from our family. To be robbed of something like this -- it's cruel."
Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson described the "sheer brutal and senseless" murder, during which Morning was stabbed 94 times, many while she lay on the ground dying. Taylor, she said, "chased" Morning down and brutally attacked her in a jealous rage "over a boy," who was the father of Taylor's child. Swinging a knife, Taylor stabbed morning in the neck, through the hands, and in the back of the head, Albertson said.
Letters were read into the record by the prosecution from both Ms. Morning's mother, Viola Morning, and her aunt, Teresa Langhorne. "This was a girl who wanted to be a nurse, who had no malice in her heart," her mother's letter read.
Viola Morning said she was able to get through the years of grief by turning to God, and prayer, Albertson told the court; Morning, who moved to North Carolina after the murder, was unable to attend the sentencing after attending every day of the seven-week trial. She said in that she hoped Taylor would get what she deserves and cried when she said she could no longer see or touch her daughter again.
Reading from the letter, Albertson said after the murder, Morning's mother was "sick and overcome with grief." Reliving the agony of the recent seven-week trial, she said, was traumatic for the Morning family.
In her letter, Morning said Taylor showed "no remorse" for her daughter's death. "She's never said she's sorry."
And, while she has to visit the grave of her daughter, Morning said the Taylor family can, at least, visit their daughter in jail.
Her mother also said that the maximum sentence wasn't enough. Taylor, she said, should "serve one year for every time she stabbed my daughter. My daughter was slaughtered."
The letter from Langhorne, Taylor's aunt, said one of the most hurtful days in her family's life was the day her niece went missing. Her mother called her, Langhorne said, and told her, "'Curtisha never made it home from school.' We searched for her from sunup to sundown."
Added Langhorne, "To see my sister, pleading, begging God to bring her daughter home -- every breath we took, it felt like the breath was leaving our bodies."
But the search ended in agony, Langhorne said. "Her daughter was dead. We felt the pain of a mother who lost her child."
Their quest for justice has spanned years, Langhorne said. "We never forgot Curtisha. My niece was killed -- beyond killed. A person who couid do that isn't human, is ungodly -- has no heart or feelings, and has expressed no remorse."
Langhorne said she felt sorry for Taylor's mother, but said Taylor "robbed" Morning of her daughter. "I hope they keep her behind bars forever."
John LoTurco, representing Taylor, said he plans to appeal; he said both families suffered the loss of a child and added both families are "innocent victims." He added that Taylor never apologized because she maintains her innocence, despite "potential overwhelming evidence. In her mind, she's innocent," he said.
LoTurco added that despite a report from the probation department when Taylor was a teen, stating that she had "violent proclivities" -- the assistant district attorney said Taylor had been previously convicted of, and was on probation for, a stabbing before the 1996 murder of Morning -- during her years in jail she has been "mild-mannered and at peace," with no fights or expressions of anger.
He asked the judge to remember this when "considering mercy."
Condon said the loss was "tremendous" for both families and expressed his condolensces to the Mornings.
"A life that was just beginning was tragically, senselessly ended by a brutal, brutal murder.," he said, adding that Morning's future was bright, with plans to study nursing and eventually, become a doctor. "If we could turn the clock back, I'm sure everyone in this courtroom would."
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