A 25-year-old Baltimore man was convicted yesterday of raping a 16-year-old blind girl last March in his car in the Harundale Mall parking lot.

A Circuit Court jury of 12 women deliberated for 2 hours before returning its verdict against Byron Charles Morrow.

Morrow's 19-year-old co-defendant, Philip Michael Saunders, is scheduled to be tried Tuesday on charges of first-degree rape and kidnapping.

The jury found Morrow not guilty of kidnapping, but guilty of first-degree rape. Several jurors declined to comment on the deliberations.

Testimony in the trial showed the girl was introduced to Saunders through a telephone "party line," prompting Morrow and Saunders to make an afternoon visit to her Glen Burnie home last St. Patrick's Day. The girl testified Morrow, whom she knew by the nickname "Bear," drove her and Saunders to the mall parking lot, where they both raped her in the man's Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

She said they dropped her off near her house, but she didn't tell her mother of the incident for three days.

Morrow took the stand Tuesday to say the girl willingly had intercourse with Saunders and him, had oral sex with him and then had intercourse again with Saunders. He said he was unaware the girl was blind.

"I could tell she was a little cross-eyed or had a lazy eye, but I know a lot of people like that and they can see fine," Morrow said.

In his closing arguments, defense attorney James D. Barton said the girl "cried rape" to create a "cover story" in the event her mother found out she had had sex with the two men.

"This young lady lives in a bubble," Barton said. "She's so starved for male affection she calls men she met on the phone, invites them down and throws herself at them.

"This young lady, in a clinical sense, is a nymphomaniac that day. She performs four sex acts in 15 minutes and then walks back in her house like nothing happened. She probably had a smile on her face."

Assistant State's Attorney Cynthia M. Ferris, in her final arguments to the jury, responded: "Sex-starved teen-ager? I don't know when I've been so offended."

She had earlier reminded the jury that Morrow led Baltimore City police on a high-speed chase before his arrest three weeks after the incident, and he initially lied to investigators about being at the girl's house. She also noted that Morrow admitted to prior convictions for theft, burglary and disorderly conduct.

Afterward, Barton said he did not think his strategy of aggressively criticizing the girl had backfired, but he said, 'It's the hardest I've ever attacked anybody."

Ferris said Barton's tactics were "obviously not effective."

The prosecutor said she would seek a lengthy prison sentence for Morrow, but she would not be specific. Sentencing is set for Nov. 19.

Morrow faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

As sheriff's deputies led him out of the courtroom, Morrow, sniffling as though holding back tears, said, "I'm not guilty. I don't know what to say."

The victim and her family cried when the verdict was read. Afterward, the victim's stepfather said the girl would have no comment. "She's so upset," he said.

Copyright The Baltimore Sun 1990

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