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‘That Poor Baby’: Man Sentenced for Fatally Beating Infant Daughter Because He Didn’t Like ‘Baby Talk’ Noises

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A Minnesota man who beat his infant daughter to death because he didn’t like the “baby talk” noises she was making was sentenced Friday to more than 25 years in prison, according to a statement from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

Cory Morris, 22, of Minneapolis, who was convicted of second-degree murder in April, admitted to authorities that he struck his infant daughter Emersyn 22 times last August, according to a 2016 statement from the Hennepin County Attorney.

Morris said he was watching TV when the baby began making noises, which he described as “baby talk.” He took her out of her baby swing and placed her on a changing table in another room. When the baby continued making noises, Morris hit her repeatedly to quiet her, he told authorities.

Morris’ girlfriend, who is the mother of Emersyn, told authorities Morris watched the baby three to four times a week while she is at work, according to the statement. That day, she had attempted to reach him multiple times, but he did not respond to text messages. When she finally reached him at about 4:45 p.m., he told her he was going to jail because he had done something to their baby, according to the statement.

He later called 911 and admitted to killing the child, the statement says.

Cory Morris
Hannepin County Attorney's Office

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“That poor baby, just four-months old, died at the hands of her father, who has admitted to punching her 15 times with a closed fist and hitting her seven times in the chest,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said shortly after Morris’ arrest. “As a father and grandfather, such brutal actions are difficult for me to comprehend.”

Struggles with Mental Illness

According to the release, Morris has struggled with mental illness for several years and had been on medication for schizophrenia — but had stopped taking it two months before killing his daughter.

His mother, Ginny Morris, told the Star-Tribune last August that family members had tried unsuccessfully to get him help for at least a year prior to the killing. She said that psychological providers told the family there were no available beds, and that at other times, her son “pushed us away.”

“We never thought he would hurt the baby. We would never allow him to be with the baby if that was the case,” Ginny Morris said. “We were worried he was going to hurt himself, not the baby.”

Judge Kerry Meyer rejected the claim by Morris’ defense that he should be found not guilty due to mental illness, ruling that he was criminally responsible, according to an earlier release by the Hennepin County Attorney.

At trial, Dr. Lawrence Panciera, a psychologist, testified that Morris was too mentally ill to be responsible for his actions, describing Morris as “delusional, irrational and unreasonable in perception.”

But Dr. Shane Wernsing, testifying for the prosecution, pointed to Morris’ conversations with his mother, police and the 911 operator immediately after the beating as evidence Morris knew he was hitting the baby and that it was wrong.

Prosecutors had asked for a 40 year sentence, while Morris’ attorney had asked for probation. Judge Meyer imposed the sentence recommended by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines of 306 months.

It was not immediately clear if Morris planned to appeal his conviction or sentence.