September 20, 1995 in City

Guilty Plea Halts Kidnap-Assault Trial He’s ‘Truly Sorry’ For Hurt, Man Tells Former Girlfriend

William Miller Staff writer

A Spokane man accused of beating women who leave him apologized Tuesday for terrorizing a former girlfriend last spring.

Abruptly ending a jury trial, Kenneth Morgan pleaded guilty to firstdegree kidnapping, second-degree assault and second-degree arson.

When he is sentenced in a few weeks, the 49-year-old Morgan faces 6-1/2 to 8-1/2 years in prison.

“I’m truly sorry for all the hurt I’ve caused you,” he told the victim, Marla Leander.

“I’ve tried many times to get help.”

For Leander, who was seated in the courtroom, there were no tears or regret.

“I did the right thing in pressing the charges,” she said. “He won’t do that again.”

Morgan’s change of heart came midway through the second day of trial in Spokane County Superior Court.

A few hours earlier, Deputy Prosecutor Dannette Allen promised in her opening statement that two former girlfriends would testify, detailing the abuse they suffered.

One was prepared to say Morgan burned down her house after she left him in 1974.

After a brief reconciliation, she ended the relationship again. He became so enraged, he raped her at gunpoint, Allen told the jury.

The other woman accuses Morgan of assaulting and kidnapping her in 1986.

None of those alleged crimes was prosecuted.

But Leander said she refused to become another of Morgan’s silent victims.

She broke up with Morgan in April after he punched and choked her in a “violent frenzy,” Allen said.

He surprised her May 5 in the parking lot of a North Side supermarket, violating a domestic violence protection order.

But Morgan persuaded her to drive to his apartment so he could return a few of her belongings and some money.

Once there, he pulled out a handgun and forced his way into her pickup truck, Allen said.

Morgan placed her in handcuffs and threatened to rape and kill her, the prosecutor said.

She managed to calm the angry man by promising to see him again.

After dropping him off at the apartment, she returned home and later called the police.

On May 11, Morgan set fire to a storage unit on East Garland where Leander kept many of her belongings. He was arrested the next day.

Following jury selection in the aborted trial, Judge Richard Schroeder refused to grant the defendant’s “untimely” request to represent himself.

Morgan has a prior conviction for grand theft in California.

, DataTimes

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