Grandmother: ‘No justice’ after Kearns dad abused kids
Dec 20, 2023, 10:53 PM | Updated: Dec 21, 2023, 7:30 am
KEARNS — A Salt Lake Valley grandmother is sharing her anger and frustration at the justice system, wondering why a Kearns man convicted of abusing his children was ordered to be let out of jail.
The grandmother and the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office told KSL TV they wanted prison time for that father, but the judge made a different decision that left the grandmother in shock. For Kathryn Wolf, weekly visits from her grandchildren usually include homemade cookies and fun memories when they come to Mimi’s house.
Looking at pictures on her phone, Wolf, pulled up photos from Halloween when the children came over to trick or treat. She’s looking forward to having them over for Christmas. But over the past few years, Wolf explained that the visits caused her concern.
“Most times when they would come over here, I would notice new bruises,” she said.
Wolf said she would ask the kids what happened, and they wouldn’t really explain. She thought maybe the bruises came from playing around, but Wolf felt it might be something more serious.
“Eventually they start telling me, ‘Yeah. Oh, it was my dad,’” she said.
Acting ‘like a monster’
Wolf said she made calls to DCFS and said that at times police were called to the children’s home.
The children’s father, Sid Anthony Morris, was jailed on a warrant last July, for felony charges of aggravated child abuse —intentionally or knowingly.
According to the indictment Morris bit, hit, spanked, and/or choked three of his children on multiple occasions.
The abuse, the document stated, left injuries that included a “laceration to the head” that Morris allegedly tried to superglue shut. A doctor verified that he observed “extensive bruising” all over one of the child’s bodies, as well as “abrasions … consistent with bite marks.”
One of the kids told police that in one instance, Morris bit them after the child didn’t put away a puzzle and that Morris hit them with a metal wrench and a screwdriver. That same child reported Morris choking their neck, making it difficult to breathe.
Another child told investigators that Morris “spanked them every day and he looked and acted like a monster.” That child and a third child described repeated physical abuse. Morris pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated child abuse.
There are two other cases against Morris, both involving domestic violence calls made to police. The first case from 2019, which was resolved in October, ended with a plea in abeyance on an assault charge. In the second case, Morris pleaded guilty to felony aggravated assault.
Surprise during sentencing
Wolf, the grandmother of the children, said she has attended every court hearing for the child abuse case. That included last week’s sentencing hearing. She said she got up and spoke before the judge.
“I told the judge, ‘It’s not like this is a one-time thing. This has been going on for a really, really long time,’” she said.
Prosecutors asked for a prison sentence, citing the severity of the abuse, the length of time over which it occurred, and the young age of the children.
“He is not amenable to treatment, he’s not amendable to supervision,” the attorney argued. “He doesn’t see that what he did was wrong. And he doesn’t own up to it. He pled guilty, but denies that he did these things, and victim blames and minimizes and doesn’t take responsibility.”
“I was very sure that he would do some significant time in prison, given what he had done, the evidence that they had,” Wolf said.
She was taken aback when Judge William K. Kendall suspended the prison sentence, and instead signed off on Morris being released in a couple of weeks.
Kendall sentenced Morris to 180 days in jail, with 162 days credit for time served, and placed Morris on probation for 36 months.
“I just can’t imagine a judge just saying, ‘I’m going to give you another chance,’” Wolf said.
Before Kendall’s decision, the defense attorney argued that Morris is not a repeat offender, has strong family ties that includes sisters who are willing to take him in, is a skilled laborer, and worked to complete anger management while in custody.
Morris also spoke, saying what he did was wrong and that he wants to better his life.
Kendall signed a protective order against the children and told Morris that if there were any violations, Morris would be looking at going to prison.
“I certainly hope that this has gotten your attention and that you come to realize that you don’t want to be spending time behind bars,” Kendall said. “And that you turn things around that you get the help that you need, and that you don’t come back before me on any violation.”
‘Definitely not justice’
Wolf said she’s disappointed in the sentence.
“I just shook my head and it’s like, no. I mean, I was trying to tell him, no, no, you can’t … this isn’t just a one-time thing,” Wolf said.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill released a statement on the sentencing to KSL TV that reads: “We asked for prison, but the judge decided to sentence the defendant to 180 days in the Salt Lake County Jail with credit for 162 days served and 36 months probation.”
There was no further comment.
Wolf described being very discouraged, and worried about her daughter and grandchildren’s wellbeing and safety.
According to the sentencing calculations, Morris could be released on New Year’s Day.
“I believed in the in the judge and the justice [system] in Utah. But I’ve since lost that,” Wolf said. “It’s definitely not justice.”