Morris sentenced to life for Hendsbee murder

News Apr 03, 2015 by Mike Peeling Brant News

William Russell Morris faces a life sentence in jail for murdering Howard Douglas Hendsbee, but he goes there with the forgiveness of his victim's wife.

Morris, 31, was sentenced last Thursday in a Brantford courtroom by Superior Court Justice Alan Whitten, who agreed with a joint submission by the Crown attorney's office and defence counsel Andrew Perrin.

Both parties suggested Morris should not be eligible to apply for parole until 10 years in custody have passed.

While a life sentence is obligatory for second-degree murder, Whitten agreed to give Morris the minimum parole eligibility due in part to his guilty plea, which spared his and Hendsbee's family the continued anguish of sitting through a jury trial.

A trial was underway last fall when Morris decided to enter a guilty plea.

Whitten gave Morris the opportunity to say something at the sentencing hearing, when he turned to Hendsbee's family.

"I'm sorry for the pain this has caused your family, but also my family as well," Morris said. "Nothing I can say will bring him back though."

Assistant Crown attorney Larry Brock said "one can only imagine the horror experienced by Douglas Hendsbee when a former friend plunged a knife deep into his heart."

"Mr. Hendsbee had become nothing but a means to an end for Mr. Morris," Brock said. "He intentionally and viciously murdered him to further his drug and alcohol-motivated lifestyle."

However, Brock said there wasn't evidence to support a case for first-degree murder, which would imply the murder was planned and deliberate.

Reading from her victim-impact statement, Hendsbee's widow Anne said she has lost all the sense of comfort and security her husband provided, which allowed her to home school their grandchildren. Now she has a constant sense of fear, particularly when her grandchildren are not at home.

"Now I feel so alone and vulnerable," she said. "My husband carried the stress of our finances. I had little idea just how much he did for us."

Anne said her grandchildren had to quit the music and dance lessons they took, and the family no longer can afford to take vacations.

"I'm so very aware that my husband is no longer beside me," she said. "No words can express what I have lost."

"I forgive William Morris for killing my husband. I refuse to let bitterness and anger consume my life."

Hendsbee's granddaughter Ariel Bean said that because of her grandfather's murder, mental health challenges she faced as a child have resurfaced.

"When I was a child I thought monsters only go after bad people," she said. "Three years ago, I learned just how wrong that is."

Ariel, 20, said she tried to keep her problems with self-harm and multiple personalities from her family in hopes everything would return to normal.

Despite being a busy provider for the family in his forced retirement, Hendsbee attended every recital featuring his grandchildren.

"It's sad to know poppa won't be there anymore, that he won't walk me down the aisle with me when I get married," she said.

Her brother Jonathan told the court he "used to have a fire inside" that has been diminished by his grandfather's murder, that he can not no longer focus on his goals, sleep through the night or get through tasks without crying.

"I feel my body has made me a prisoner," he said. "This has been taxing physically on the whole family."

Jonathan recalled how his grandfather played Santa each year for the family, wearing a hat and passing out presents.

"This is the third year in a row I won't have my Santa," he said. "I won't have my hero, my father and my role model. I hope I grow up to be as amazing as my grandpa was."

Before he passed away, Hendsbee provided rides to residents of Slovak Village, a city-run subsidized apartment building on Fifth Avenue, for a fee after volunteering time at the building.

Although Morris didn't live in the building, he took advantage of Hendsbee's service early in the morning on Oct. 21, 2011.

Hendsbee, dead of a stab wound to the chest, was found in the building's parking lot inside his silver Honda, under a pile of blankets and clothing owned by Morris.

Evidence showed Morris drove Hendsbee's dead body around in the car to use his bank and credit cards to make $3,600 in purchases, once even after Brantford Police were investigating Hendsbee's disappearance.

In addition the life sentence, Whitten ordered a weapons prohibition for life for Morris, a DNA sample from Morris be entered in a federal criminal database and to have no communication with any member of Hendsbee's family.

Whitten called Morris "a walking example of how drug addiction can destroy life."

Whitten said the 10-year parole eligibility for Morris takes into account the time he has already served.

"This is not a get out of jail card," Whitten said. "It's just the beginning of a chance to come to terms with what you did and your addictions.

"You will be watched closely. So really, the future is in your hands."

Morris sentenced to life for Hendsbee murder

News Apr 03, 2015 by Mike Peeling Brant News

William Russell Morris faces a life sentence in jail for murdering Howard Douglas Hendsbee, but he goes there with the forgiveness of his victim's wife.

Morris, 31, was sentenced last Thursday in a Brantford courtroom by Superior Court Justice Alan Whitten, who agreed with a joint submission by the Crown attorney's office and defence counsel Andrew Perrin.

Both parties suggested Morris should not be eligible to apply for parole until 10 years in custody have passed.

While a life sentence is obligatory for second-degree murder, Whitten agreed to give Morris the minimum parole eligibility due in part to his guilty plea, which spared his and Hendsbee's family the continued anguish of sitting through a jury trial.

A trial was underway last fall when Morris decided to enter a guilty plea.

Whitten gave Morris the opportunity to say something at the sentencing hearing, when he turned to Hendsbee's family.

"I'm sorry for the pain this has caused your family, but also my family as well," Morris said. "Nothing I can say will bring him back though."

Assistant Crown attorney Larry Brock said "one can only imagine the horror experienced by Douglas Hendsbee when a former friend plunged a knife deep into his heart."

"Mr. Hendsbee had become nothing but a means to an end for Mr. Morris," Brock said. "He intentionally and viciously murdered him to further his drug and alcohol-motivated lifestyle."

However, Brock said there wasn't evidence to support a case for first-degree murder, which would imply the murder was planned and deliberate.

Reading from her victim-impact statement, Hendsbee's widow Anne said she has lost all the sense of comfort and security her husband provided, which allowed her to home school their grandchildren. Now she has a constant sense of fear, particularly when her grandchildren are not at home.

"Now I feel so alone and vulnerable," she said. "My husband carried the stress of our finances. I had little idea just how much he did for us."

Anne said her grandchildren had to quit the music and dance lessons they took, and the family no longer can afford to take vacations.

"I'm so very aware that my husband is no longer beside me," she said. "No words can express what I have lost."

"I forgive William Morris for killing my husband. I refuse to let bitterness and anger consume my life."

Hendsbee's granddaughter Ariel Bean said that because of her grandfather's murder, mental health challenges she faced as a child have resurfaced.

"When I was a child I thought monsters only go after bad people," she said. "Three years ago, I learned just how wrong that is."

Ariel, 20, said she tried to keep her problems with self-harm and multiple personalities from her family in hopes everything would return to normal.

Despite being a busy provider for the family in his forced retirement, Hendsbee attended every recital featuring his grandchildren.

"It's sad to know poppa won't be there anymore, that he won't walk me down the aisle with me when I get married," she said.

Her brother Jonathan told the court he "used to have a fire inside" that has been diminished by his grandfather's murder, that he can not no longer focus on his goals, sleep through the night or get through tasks without crying.

"I feel my body has made me a prisoner," he said. "This has been taxing physically on the whole family."

Jonathan recalled how his grandfather played Santa each year for the family, wearing a hat and passing out presents.

"This is the third year in a row I won't have my Santa," he said. "I won't have my hero, my father and my role model. I hope I grow up to be as amazing as my grandpa was."

Before he passed away, Hendsbee provided rides to residents of Slovak Village, a city-run subsidized apartment building on Fifth Avenue, for a fee after volunteering time at the building.

Although Morris didn't live in the building, he took advantage of Hendsbee's service early in the morning on Oct. 21, 2011.

Hendsbee, dead of a stab wound to the chest, was found in the building's parking lot inside his silver Honda, under a pile of blankets and clothing owned by Morris.

Evidence showed Morris drove Hendsbee's dead body around in the car to use his bank and credit cards to make $3,600 in purchases, once even after Brantford Police were investigating Hendsbee's disappearance.

In addition the life sentence, Whitten ordered a weapons prohibition for life for Morris, a DNA sample from Morris be entered in a federal criminal database and to have no communication with any member of Hendsbee's family.

Whitten called Morris "a walking example of how drug addiction can destroy life."

Whitten said the 10-year parole eligibility for Morris takes into account the time he has already served.

"This is not a get out of jail card," Whitten said. "It's just the beginning of a chance to come to terms with what you did and your addictions.

"You will be watched closely. So really, the future is in your hands."

Morris sentenced to life for Hendsbee murder

News Apr 03, 2015 by Mike Peeling Brant News

William Russell Morris faces a life sentence in jail for murdering Howard Douglas Hendsbee, but he goes there with the forgiveness of his victim's wife.

Morris, 31, was sentenced last Thursday in a Brantford courtroom by Superior Court Justice Alan Whitten, who agreed with a joint submission by the Crown attorney's office and defence counsel Andrew Perrin.

Both parties suggested Morris should not be eligible to apply for parole until 10 years in custody have passed.

While a life sentence is obligatory for second-degree murder, Whitten agreed to give Morris the minimum parole eligibility due in part to his guilty plea, which spared his and Hendsbee's family the continued anguish of sitting through a jury trial.

A trial was underway last fall when Morris decided to enter a guilty plea.

Whitten gave Morris the opportunity to say something at the sentencing hearing, when he turned to Hendsbee's family.

"I'm sorry for the pain this has caused your family, but also my family as well," Morris said. "Nothing I can say will bring him back though."

Assistant Crown attorney Larry Brock said "one can only imagine the horror experienced by Douglas Hendsbee when a former friend plunged a knife deep into his heart."

"Mr. Hendsbee had become nothing but a means to an end for Mr. Morris," Brock said. "He intentionally and viciously murdered him to further his drug and alcohol-motivated lifestyle."

However, Brock said there wasn't evidence to support a case for first-degree murder, which would imply the murder was planned and deliberate.

Reading from her victim-impact statement, Hendsbee's widow Anne said she has lost all the sense of comfort and security her husband provided, which allowed her to home school their grandchildren. Now she has a constant sense of fear, particularly when her grandchildren are not at home.

"Now I feel so alone and vulnerable," she said. "My husband carried the stress of our finances. I had little idea just how much he did for us."

Anne said her grandchildren had to quit the music and dance lessons they took, and the family no longer can afford to take vacations.

"I'm so very aware that my husband is no longer beside me," she said. "No words can express what I have lost."

"I forgive William Morris for killing my husband. I refuse to let bitterness and anger consume my life."

Hendsbee's granddaughter Ariel Bean said that because of her grandfather's murder, mental health challenges she faced as a child have resurfaced.

"When I was a child I thought monsters only go after bad people," she said. "Three years ago, I learned just how wrong that is."

Ariel, 20, said she tried to keep her problems with self-harm and multiple personalities from her family in hopes everything would return to normal.

Despite being a busy provider for the family in his forced retirement, Hendsbee attended every recital featuring his grandchildren.

"It's sad to know poppa won't be there anymore, that he won't walk me down the aisle with me when I get married," she said.

Her brother Jonathan told the court he "used to have a fire inside" that has been diminished by his grandfather's murder, that he can not no longer focus on his goals, sleep through the night or get through tasks without crying.

"I feel my body has made me a prisoner," he said. "This has been taxing physically on the whole family."

Jonathan recalled how his grandfather played Santa each year for the family, wearing a hat and passing out presents.

"This is the third year in a row I won't have my Santa," he said. "I won't have my hero, my father and my role model. I hope I grow up to be as amazing as my grandpa was."

Before he passed away, Hendsbee provided rides to residents of Slovak Village, a city-run subsidized apartment building on Fifth Avenue, for a fee after volunteering time at the building.

Although Morris didn't live in the building, he took advantage of Hendsbee's service early in the morning on Oct. 21, 2011.

Hendsbee, dead of a stab wound to the chest, was found in the building's parking lot inside his silver Honda, under a pile of blankets and clothing owned by Morris.

Evidence showed Morris drove Hendsbee's dead body around in the car to use his bank and credit cards to make $3,600 in purchases, once even after Brantford Police were investigating Hendsbee's disappearance.

In addition the life sentence, Whitten ordered a weapons prohibition for life for Morris, a DNA sample from Morris be entered in a federal criminal database and to have no communication with any member of Hendsbee's family.

Whitten called Morris "a walking example of how drug addiction can destroy life."

Whitten said the 10-year parole eligibility for Morris takes into account the time he has already served.

"This is not a get out of jail card," Whitten said. "It's just the beginning of a chance to come to terms with what you did and your addictions.

"You will be watched closely. So really, the future is in your hands."