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Judge: Mpls. man was mentally ill when he beat his baby but still guilty of murder

Star Tribune - 5/3/2017

May 03--A 22-year-old father has been found mentally ill but still guilty of murder in the severe beating death of his 4-month-old daughter in the family's Minneapolis home.

Cory C. Morris was convicted Monday in a bench trial before Hennepin County District Judge Kerry Meyer of second-degree murder in the death last August of Emersyn Morris.

Cory Morris, who pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness, remains jailed ahead of sentencing, which is scheduled for June 2.

Meyer wrote in her verdict that the evidence was clear that Morris was guilty and suffering from mental illness. However, she added, his illness did not absolve him of guilt in Emersyn's death.

Family members said they had been trying to persuade Morris to get psychological help. He would later tell law enforcement that he was schizophrenic and heard voices.

Morris went to see a therapist as recently as two days before the killing in an attempt to get help for what his mother, Ginny Morris, said was severe depression and mental illness.

Prosecutors alleged that while the baby's mother and Morris' girlfriend, Jenny Andersen, was at work, he snapped and punched Emersyn 22 times in the head and chest as she lay on her bedroom changing table.

Emersyn suffered skull fractures, broken ribs, cuts to her face, injuries to her liver and pancreas, and fatal damage to her brain, according to court records.

According to the criminal charge, Morris later told police that sometime during that day his daughter started making what he described as "baby talk" as he watched television. He took the baby out of her swing, carried her into her bedroom and placed her on the changing table.

Emersyn "continued making noises and he hit her to quiet her," the charging document read. By the time medics arrived at the upper-level duplex residence east of downtown, Emersyn was unconscious. Morris was covered in blood, and his right hand was swollen.

When he announced the charge against Morris a few days after the baby's beating, County Attorney Mike Freeman said the violence was "beyond comprehension."

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(c)2017 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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