A Gillette man spending life in prison for sexually abusing a 7-year-old boy will not be given a new trial despite his argument that the jury convicted him merely for being a pedophile, and not for committing an actual act of sexual abuse.
Terrill Kim Morris, 57, formerly of Washington, was convicted in 2021 of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and later sentenced to spend life in prison without parole – a lengthy sentence possible under Wyoming’s habitual offender statute for repeat criminals.
Morris had sexual relations with a 7-year-old boy in the past in his home state of Washington.
The Wyoming Supreme Court on Monday upheld Morris’ conviction, despite his appeal objections that his trial jury had convicted him merely for being a pedophile and for having committed past sexual acts against children.
Rash Cream Incident
Morris’ jury found that in 2020 he had befriended a family with a 7-year-old boy, and had later showered with the boy twice without the mother’s permission, according to the state Supreme Court’s ruling.
Morris also had bought rash cream for the boy at Walmart. He then took the boy into the home’s bathroom and put rash cream on the boy’s anus without the mother’s permission, even though the boy did not have a rash, the jury found.
Morris told police that in a bathroom alone, the boy bent over and Morris “put some cream in there” with his finger.
The jury determined that Morris had sexual intentions when committing these acts.
The court allowed the jury to hear a police interview in which Morris admitted his attraction to children and to having had sexual activities with a different 7-year-old boy in the past.
“I know I wasn’t going to do anything,” Morris had told police, according to the order. “Five years old is not part of my victim. The youngest it was was 7, and the reason why is because it was an opportunity.”
But the district court warned the jury that though the interview was allowed to help them determine Morris’ state of mind when committing the acts presented in that trial, the jury should not convict Morris based on his pedophilia or his past crimes.
Convictions are not fair if they are based on factors other than the crime charged, the high court wrote in its ruling.
No Nonsexual Purpose
The high court disagreed with Morris’ appeal, saying that the jury could “reasonably conclude that there was no nonsexual purpose for Mr. Morris to apply the cream” to the boy’s bottom while alone in the bathroom without permission from either parent to do so.
The boy was crying and upset after the rash cream incident, the order relates from a police interview with the boy’s mother.
The court’s order also says the jury could have inferred that Morris had no nonsexual purpose for showering with the boy twice.
It upheld his conviction. Morris remains in the Wyoming Medium Correction Institution on a life sentence.