SEATTLE — A brutal and public domestic violence murder case came to a close Thursday after three years of playing out in court. A judge sentenced 32-year-old David Morris to nearly four decades in prison after he repeatedly stabbed and killed the mother of his child. The chaos unfolded at the Seattle Center on Nov. 2, 2018.
“It is among the worse domestic violence crimes this community, this state has ever seen,” said a deputy prosecuting attorney, David Martin.
In May, a jury convicted Morris of premeditated first-degree murder.
“David Morris murdered Gabrielle Maria Garcia in a planned, cruel and very public way,” said Jocelyn McCurtain, another deputy prosecuting attorney. Garcia was 28 years old when she was killed. Her mother remembered her during the sentencing.
“Gabrielle was a sweet kind, soul. She had just gotten a nursing assistant certificate and was hoping to pursue a career in nursing. She was a devoted mom,” said Tema Nesoff, mother of the victim.
Nearly three years ago, Morris was meeting Garcia at the Seattle Center to visit with their 5-year-old son.
A judge had granted Garcia a protection order against Morris just days before, but it allowed him certain visits with their child.
He told detectives he wanted to reconcile their relationship. And when Garcia refused to discuss it, he pulled out the knife he had brought to the Seattle Center and killed her in front of their 5-year-old child and crowds of people.
KIRO 7 spoke with witnesses at the time.
“I, all of a sudden, saw a blade. It was like he (stabbed) 20 times as I ran towards her, and everyone else did too to try and get him off her,” said a witness identified as Randy.
A cellphone video showed a good Samaritan holding Morris at gunpoint after the stabbing. Another person pepper-sprayed him. Shortly after, Seattle police arrived on the scene, used a Taser on him and took him down.
“This was a horrendous, brutal, grotesque crime with many, many victims. It is the most serious crime I’ve dealt with in my time on the bench,” said King County Superior Court Judge Michael Scott.
The defense asked the judge in the courtroom on Thursday to consider Morris’ post-traumatic stress disorder from serving in the military, as well as Morris’ autism, in the sentencing decision.
“Those neurological differences exist in Mr. Morris,” said Reid Burkland, public defender and Morris’ attorney. “That did have an impact on the crime in this case,” Burkland said.
However, the judge did not agree.
“Whatever Mr. Morris’ struggles,” Judge Thomas said. “Mr. Morris was able to plan very effectively and brutally over a period of time and carried out his plan.” Thomas sentenced Morris to 464 months in prison, or 38 years and eight months. The sentence was about six years shy of what the state asked for.
Family members said the impact of their daughter’s murder is immeasurable.
“The grief, pain, trauma you caused will be with him for the rest of his life. He asked for such a long time, ‘Why did my father kill my mother?’ He thought maybe he could’ve saved her if he had asked you nicely to stop hurting his mommy,” Nesoff said. “Nobody should have to go through what we went through because of him,” she said.
The defense will have one year to appeal.
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