published Friday, March 2nd, 2012

UTC dorm room burglar faces up to 6 years in prison

  • photo
    Mug shot of Bernard Morris
    Staff photo by Chattanooga Times Free Press

A former UTC student who pleaded guilty to planting hidden cameras inside clocks of four dorm rooms at the school could face three to six years in prison.

Bernard Morris, 24, pleaded guilty Thursday to four counts of aggravated burglary and two related burglary charges to Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole.

The judge set April 16 for Morris' sentencing and also for a hearing on what punishment he'll face for violating his probation on a previous charge of stalking and harassing a high school student.

Morris, a former resident assistant in a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga dormitory, faced 14 felony charges in relation to the Oct. 28, 2010 dorm-room break-ins.

A student living in the Guerry dorm building, where Morris lived, reported to campus police after finding a chest of drawers had been moved, a headboard leaning forward and a Walmart bag full of women's underwear beneath his bed.

Police arrested Morris on March 21, 2011.

Executive Assistant District Attorney Neal Pinkston prosecuted the case while attorney Michael Caputo represented Morris. Both declined to comment on the case before sentencing.

Both attorneys will file responses to the pre-sentencing investigation report that Poole uses to determine Morris' sentence.

Caputo told the judge that Morris has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a mental development disorder similar to autism, which Caputo said should be considered in Morris' sentencing.

On Dec. 19, 2007, Morris pleaded guilty to charges that he stalked and harassed a female student at Ooltewah High School while he was a student there. Poole sentenced Morris to three years' probation for those charges.

The probation was revoked after Morris' arrest last year. He has been in custody since his arrest and will receive jail time credit toward his sentence.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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