Morales sentenced to 50 years

Jose Enrique Morales, 19, of Marshalltown was sentenced to 50 years in prison by Judge John J. Haney in Marshall County District Court Tuesday, as punishment for the second-degree murder of Dedrikk Fisher, 20, also of Marshalltown.

Morales must serve a minimum of 35 years, or 70 percent of the sentence, Haney said.

“You took a life,” the judge said. “Your actions impacted the lives of many others as well as your own.”

Haney said the sentence was mandated by state law with no discretion.

Additionally, Haney, at the request of Marshall County Attorney Jennifer Miller, ordered Morales to pay $150,000 to Fisher’s parents, Jason Lowell and Jennifer Fisher, as part of victim restitution, and pay related court costs.

Morales had been found guilty of second-degree murder by a Webster County jury April 10, following a four-day trial.

The defendant had pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder filed by Marshall County authorities in mid-January, after he was accused of shooting Fisher following a dispute at a Marshalltown residence.

Morales evaded authorities four days before being apprehended at a Marshalltown apartment complex.

Wearing jail garb, the defendant declined to make a statement before sentencing. He stared straight ahead during the proceedings, while seated between his defense attorneys, Scott Hunter and Aaron Siebrecht of the Marshall County Public Defenders Office.

However, two of Fisher’s relatives, Lowell and Fisher’s sister, made compelling and painful victim impact statements prior to sentencing.

Before speaking, Lowell needed several minutes to compose himself.

“Fifty years is not enough,” he said to Morales. “You got off easy.”

He then recited the names of Fisher’s family members who had been impacted by his death.

“I hope you rot in prison and never make it out,” Lowell said, staring straight at Morales. “I pray your grave will be prison.”

Fisher’s sister said she had contemplated suicide as a result of her brother’s death.

Law enforcement presence was strong at the afternoon hearing.

A Marshall County Sheriff’s deputy checked bags of attendees before they were allowed in the courtroom.

Several other deputies were present inside the courtroom during the duration of the hearing, as well as Marshalltown Police Department officers and other law enforcement personnel.

Two deputies stood near the family during proceedings, while several more were seated behind the family in the back of the courtroom.

Their attendance may have been the result of an outburst by Fisher’s family last month when Haney read the jury’s verdict of murder in the second degree.

That reading was met with sobbing by Fisher’s family and friends, and was followed by expletives from family members directed at Morales.

Law enforcement responded quickly, and escorted Fisher’s family out of the courtroom.

The jury, at their request, was also escorted out by law enforcement.

Before sentencing, Hunter asked Haney to rule on motions of acquittal, dismissal of evidence and a new trial.

Miller rebutted Hunter’s claims point by point, and Haney denied all three motions before passing sentence.

Haney said Morales may appeal the sentence, but must do so within 30 days.

Several law enforcement personnel surrounded Morales after the hearing was adjourned, and he was escorted out by two deputies.