By Tamas Mondovics
The result of a recent re-sentencing hearing request is life in prison for convicted 25-year-old violent rapist Kendrick Morris. For his victim, Queena Voung, her family, friends and countless supporters it is simply, justice served.
“I am thankful that the judge heard and understood our pain,” said Voung’s mom Vanna. “I feel like justice has been served, but it still breaks my heart.”
In 2011, Morris was sentenced to 65 years in prison by Circuit Judge Chet A. Tharpe three years after he was convicted of dragging Queena behind the Bloomingdale Regional Library, where he raped and brutally beat the then 18-year old high school senior leaving her for dead. Queena’s injuries left her brain damaged, paralyzed and blind and she remains in need of ongoing medical care.
Morris was also found guilty for an attack and rape of an elderly woman at knifepoint ten months prior when he was 15 years old, in addition to the Bloomingdale incident.
Morris requested the hearing after a Supreme Court ruling, which deemed lengthy prison sentences without a chance of parole for juvenile offenders unconstitutional.
While the changes in federal laws allowed Morris to face Judge Tharpe once more.
Now as an adult in hopes of a lighter sentence things did not go any better for Morris. Instead, Tharpe sentenced Morris—once more—to life in prison.
“Queena’s attacker will spend life in prison, but my daughter also has her own life sentence that she did not choose,” Vanna said.
Feeling less stressed and more peaceful, now that the ordeal of reliving the court process and the re-sentencing is over, the Voung family must refocus on the daily routine of taking care of Queena, a full-time job that gives Vanna little time to think about anything else.
“Our average day, including the weekends, are very busy,” she said adding that the morning routine to “brush Queena’s teeth, her hair, wash her face, change her diaper, put on a new outfit for her, give her food, water, and medicine through her feeding tube, and lift her into the wheelchair takes a couple hours.”
Then it’s time to go to all of Queena’s appointments for the day, either medical or therapy.
“We are usually at out-patient therapies for three to four hours before we return home for more in-home therapy,” she said. “Sometimes she gets a special treat like yoga, facial, massage, or art and music class.”
The family has tried physical therapy, speech, vision, occupational, and aqua therapy. For treatments, Queena receives hyperbaric oxygen, stem cell therapy, and neuro bio-feedback.
“For holistic, we try yoga, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, essential oils, aroma-touch, natural supplements,” she said. “Queena is currently working on her communication device.”
Of course all this is costly and the family is grateful for the community’s outpouring of generosity supporting the long road to Queena’s recovery.
According to Queena’s sister, Anna Donato, the family is gearing up to host the 6th Annual South Shore 5K4Q Run now scheduled for Saturday, April 22 at E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin.
“We will be celebrating Queena’s 27th birthday that day,” Anna said, adding “Just two days before reaching the ninth year since she survived the attack. The family relies on the unwavering hope, prayer and support from the community to keep going.
For information about the 5K4Q event, visit www.joinqueena.com/fundraisers/. Donations to support queen’s ongoing care can be made at www.joinqueena.com. The family has formed Hope Heals The Brain Inc., a 501c3 non-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible. To support the family sponsorships for an upcoming 2nd annual golf tournament at Topgolf planned for Sunday, August 6 is also available, by reaching Donato at 956-3822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.