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Man gets 20 years for trying to rape woman at bus stop


A 28-year-old Essex man received a 20-year prison sentence yesterday for the attempted rape of a woman attacked last May as she waited for a bus home from work.

Jeffrey D. Morrison of the 300 block of Riverside Drive insisted yesterday that the victim, who is mildly retarded, had solicited him to pay her for a sex act.

A Baltimore County jury quickly rejected that story at his December trial, convicting him of attempted second-degree rape, assault and battery. Judge John Grason Turnbull II also didn't buy it yesterday.

The 47-year-old victim was at an Eastern Boulevard bus stop about 2:15 a.m. after getting off work from her factory job, said Assistant State's Attorney Susan H. Hazlett, who asked for the maximum 20-year term.

Morrison sat down at the bus stop and made conversation, then exposed himself, Ms. Hazlett said. The woman fled into an alley and was trapped, but a motorist saw the attack and called police. Officers arrested Morrison after a brief chase.

At sentencing, defense attorney Norman Stone III cut Morrison off as he was telling Judge Turnbull that he was solicited. Mr. Stone instead focused on his client's medical problems and asked for mercy.

Morrison lived a normal life with his hard-working parents until a head injury from a 1985 accident on a three-wheeled vehicle, the attorney told Judge Turnbull. Morrison began to abuse alcohol and marijuana.

In August 1986, he was driving drunk and crossed the center line on Eastern Boulevard -- killing Carless Clinton Bland. Placed on work-release for a homicide by motor vehicle conviction, he violated probation and had to serve the rest of what was then the maximum sentence of three years, Ms. Hazlett said.

Morrison, who was reinjured in the 1986 crash, "fixated on that accident," Mr. Stone said. "He felt so terribly guilty" and began to drink heavily and contemplate suicide.

Judge Turnbull said Morrison's head injuries "no doubt had a devastating effect upon him and probably caused, to a large extent, problems not present before."

But Morrison's version of the attempted rape "is absolutely incredible," the judge said. "He has shown that he is a serious threat to the citizens of this state."

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