William Phillip Norris Jr. was sentenced to 37 ½ years in prison by a Montgomery County jury in the 359th Judicial District Court on Friday, April 9, 2010. The trial began earlier in the previous week and was presided over by Judge Kathleen Hamilton. The jury convicted Norris on Thursday, April 8th after listening to the prosecution’s evidence and the claims of self-defense and defense of another raised by Norris.
The defendant was convicted of murder, a first degree felony, for his actions arising out of the murder of his younger brother, Steven Michael Morris. At trial, prosecutors Sheri Culberson and Tammy Adamo elicited that the defendant was enraged when he arrived at a house where the victim was staying. Witnesses testified that the defendant walked towards the victim and started shooting. Detective Dan Zientek, with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, testified that earlier that day, there had been an altercation over $2,000 between the two that culminated in the shooting. Counsel for the defendant claimed that this was a case of self-defense and defense of another. Self-defense has become an increasingly popular and successful defense in Texas since the legislature changed the law of self-defense several years ago. The defendant stated that he brought a gun because he had just found his home ransacked and took the gun for protection. He further claimed that as his brother, who was a known methamphetamine user, was attacking his father, that the defendant fired off two warning shots. The defendant then claimed that he closed his eyes and shot five more times. The defendant boasted that he was a “good shot” after being able to strike his brother five times on the torso, without striking his father, who was allegedly mere inches away from the brother.
After eliciting some information about the defendant’s claim, Culberson countered with evidence that the defendant was a meth dealer with a violent past and should not be entitled to this defense. Culberson stated “The jury verdict indicates that they had little faith in the defendant’s claims.” After the jury’s verdict of guilty to the charged count, punishment evidence was presented. Prosecutors introduced evidence of prior bad acts in the defendant’s past for the jury’s consideration.
Culberson stated that “…the jury sent an important message that every human life has value, and that it was not this defendant’s place to decide when his brother should die.” District Attorney, Brett Ligon, is appreciative of the time and effort placed into this case by his prosecutors and also the jury which heard evidence over several different days during two weeks. The defendant will not be eligible for parole until approximately 19 years of his sentenced is served in prison.