Man placed on probation after stalking his former counselor for over a year
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IDAHO FALLS — A judge placed a man who struggles with mental illness on probation after he repeatedly stalked his former counselor for over a year.
Marty Morrow, 42, received 10 years of probation from District Judge Dane H. Watkins Jr. with very specific conditions on Monday. While on probation, Morrow must live in an assisted living facility and receive treatment for his mental illness.
The sentence came after a plea agreement that took over a year to negotiate with Bonneville County prosecutors. Morrow agreed to plead guilty to felony first-degree stalking and possession of a gun by a convicted felon, in exchange for a recommendation of probation while living in the assisted living facility.
“He was in therapy for a number of years for his mental illness and I don’t think people understand the implications of mental illness,” the former therapist said in her victim impact statement. “Sometimes they use it as an excuse to justify bad behavior. He at several times could have walked, could have left things as they were.”
The victim explained a schizophrenic Morrow did not leave her alone, continually stalked her, and damaged her property. Even with a no-contact order in place and a misdemeanor second-degree stalking charge, Morrow showed up at a local store intending to meet the victim. Instead, the Idaho Falls Police Department found Morrow at the store with a loaded handgun and a phone detailing his stalking activities. He was then arrested.
“If he’s going to come after me and do the things that he did with me, what’s going to stop him in the near future?” the victim asked. “I know he’s probably not going to be sentenced for life, but at the same time, he has to realize that there’s got to be implications, there’s got to be justice for bad behavior, even though he has a mental illness.”
Bonneville County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Russell Spencer said Morrow has been living in the assisted living facility and shown improvement while on medication. Spencer agreed with the victim that if Morrow is not on his medications and not receiving treatment, “he does present a great risk to the community.” Spencer said with Morrow in the assisted living facility he will get the help he needs and do well in society. Prosecutors reached the plea agreement with Morrow after working with the victim, Spencer said.
“On one hand there is mercy, but there is also a very heavy stick,” said Defense Attorney Rocky Wixom. “If my client were to ever walk from the assisted living facility, (staff) would have free reign to call the police (and) immediately he would have a 10-year prison sentence.”
When giving the sentence, Watkins agreed to the plea agreement, giving the underlying 10-year prison sentence that would kick in if Morrow violates probation.
“When I got arrested, I was not taking my pills and I was doing meth which makes my condition worse,” Morrow said before receiving the sentence. “I didn’t realize at the time what I was doing to (the victim). In my mind, I was having delusions and thought she was out to get me and I was very confused.”
Morrow went on to explain since his arrest and consistently taking medications he was able to realize what he had done and felt sorry for it. He said he can’t take back his actions but can look forward and take his medication and participate in treatment to ensure it does not happen again.
“Stalking is a real threat and in this case, the court understands the defendant has mental health diagnoses,” Watkins said. “These diagnoses place the defendant in a category separate from many of the individuals the court sentences.”
Watkins also gave a 360-day jail sentence as a punishment for the crime. Morrow has already served the year in custody, both at the jail and a mental health hospital, meaning he will start the time on probation. Morrow will also have to pay $1,491 in fees and fines, according to court records.
“I plan on proving everyone wrong that thinks I can’t do good,” Morrow said.