Tulsa Man Sentenced for Abusing a 3-Year-Old Child
A Tulsa man responsible for abusing a three-year-old child was sentenced Friday in federal court, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.
Chief U.S. District Judge John F. Heil III sentenced Craig Allan Morrison, 37, to 25 years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release.
A federal jury found Morrison guilty of two counts of child abuse in Indian Country and his girlfriend, Amanda Lyn Walker, 42, guilty of two counts of enabling acts of child abuse in Indian Country. Walker was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Jan. 10, 2022.
“Craig Morrison brutally assaulted this young victim and will spend 25 years in federal prison for his crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “Victims of violence are best supported by a team of medical professionals, victim advocates, law enforcement and prosecutors. In this case, their collaborative work was critical to detecting the abuse, protecting the boy from further harm, and fighting for justice on his behalf.”
Federal prosecutors argued that, based on the facts of the case, an appropriate sentence for Morrison would be 25 years in federal prison. In court documents and proceedings, prosecutors explained the child was severely beaten but also suffered severe mental trauma resulting from the time he lived with Morrison and Walker. According to victim impact statements, the child initially hid in closets, avoided eye contact, was scared of taking baths and would scream in terror, and did not like being held or consoled.
Prosecutors explained the long term impact of abuse was far greater for a child victim than it would be for an adult victim. They explained that because of the child’s age and stage of development, the aggravated assaults and trauma his body carries from the abuse would have a more significant and life-long impact on the child. Prosecutors and a guardian ad litem for the child emphasized that the trauma of Morrison’s repeated abuse and Walker’s enabling and willful failure to protect her child could create ripples across the child’s life.
Child mental and physical abuse are forms of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). According to the CDC, ACEs can have measurable and “lasting negative effects on health, well-being, as well as life opportunities…” Toxic stress from ACE’s can change brain development and affect how the body responds to stress, and are often linked to chronic health problems, mental illness and substance misuse in adulthood. The more ACE’s people experience at a young age, the greater the impact.
In sentencing, Judge Heil noted Morrison’s other conviction for a domestic violence strangulation in 2008 in violation of a protection order and that Morrison’s violence had escalated. Prosecutors argued Morrison’s propensity toward violence endangered the public and he should be incarcerated for a significant amount of time to protect others.
The couple went to trial in June 2021.
During the trial, the jury received evidence describing two separate instances of child abuse involving a then three-year-old child.
On Feb. 18, 2020, the couple took Walker’s then three-year-old-child to St Francis Hospital for injuries they claimed occurred after the child fell or jumped from his bed. Suspecting abuse, hospital staff contacted pediatricians who specialize in child abuse cases to further examine the child. The child was found to have extensive bruising to his head, back, shoulder, abdomen, buttocks, and leg. Also found were scabbed abrasions on his scalp and on the right side of his forehead. Laboratory testing further showed elevated liver enzymes and elevated amylase. One of the pediatricians who treated the child testified that the laboratory tests indicated liver and pancreatic injuries. She further explained that the child’s injuries showed the child had suffered blunt force trauma and were the result of child abuse. The victim remained at the hospital for five days for treatment.
During an investigation, Tulsa police officers learned of another incident that took place on or about Dec. 20, 2019, when family members observed and photographed a hand-shaped bruise on the child’s face. According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Walker told a relative that Morrison had hit the child in the face while sleeping due to a “night terror” and that the child’s other bruises were from falls. The relative also reported several other examples where Walker allowed Morrison to mistreat the child, including shoving food into the child’s mouth, causing him to choke.
Walker was further warned by one of Morrison’s family members in text messages to distance herself from Morrison because he was dangerous. The family member also reported that Morrison said the child cried for no reason, so Morrison gave the child reason to cry.
The crimes took place within the Muskogee Nation Reservation, and the minor is a citizen of the Comanche Nation.
The FBI and Tulsa Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melody Noble Nelson and Chantelle D. Dial prosecuted the case.