Jury: Men guilty in case involving teen

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Covington County jury deliberated less than 30 minutes Friday afternoon before convicting two men in a 2009 case involving a 13-year-old girl.

Jurors found Donar “Donnie” Lafayette Strickland, 49, guilty of rape II, sexual abuse II and furnishing alcohol to a minor. They found Robert Craig Morgan, 35, also guilty of furnishing alcohol to a minor.

The charges against the two men stemmed from incidents, which occurred in January 2009, when the then-13-year-old had been left in their care.

Eight months later, the victim reported the abuse, and the Covington County Sheriff’s Office and Department of Human Resources conducted a joint investigation. The men were indicted in 2011. The jury heard evidence from the victim, the investigator and the social worker, as well as from an expert witness who explained that delayed reporting and severe depression are often effects suffered by victims of child abuse. Both Strickland and Morgan testified in their defense.

Assistant District Attorney Emmett Massey, who prosecuted the case, said, “ After the verdicts were returned, “This victim has suffered untold amounts of emotional and psychological damage from what was done to her one night. None of us will ever know the courage it took for her to face these two men in court. I am very thankful, for her sake, that the jury convicted the defendants. I know it was not easy for them to hear the evidence, and I appreciate the job they did.”

David Baker represented Morgan, while Grady Lanier and Bart Boothe represented Strickland.

Circuit Judge Charles A. “Lex” Short, who heard the case, set sentencing for November.