Sentence handed down today in Hodge death

Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney Justin L. Griffith issued the following statement this morning:

To the Public,

On July 21, 2021, Michael Dominic Morris pled guilty and was found guilty of one count of Aggravated Involuntary Manslaughter and one count of Driving Under the Influence. As I have repeatedly said, our office did not enter into a sentencing agreement. He was sentenced by the Circuit Court today. On the Aggravated Manslaughter charge, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison and on the Driving Under the Influence charge, he was sentenced to 12 months in jail. He was ordered to serve 14 active years in prison. The low-end of his guidelines recommended an active sentence of 3 years and 3 months, mid-point of 6 years and high-end of 7 years and 7 months. The 14-year active sentence is an extreme upward deviation.

As I told the Court, how do you argue for justice in this case without sounding like you are saying Perry Hodge’s life is more valuable than others’ lives? What is unique in this case is the far and wide range of effects the Defendant’s choices had, beyond himself and Perry. The impact of Perry’s death has been felt by children meeting with counselors from the loss of their School Resource Officer to grown men and women who wear badges and guns falling to their knees in pain. Through our words, the Commonwealth demanded justice. I asked for severe justice for the taking of a life. That was the only thing acceptable to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth had a duty to this community that Perry served; to the family and friends that Perry loved; to the school children and the law enforcement colleagues to whom he was a role model.

The court listened to our arguments that the tremors of grief the Defendant’s choices made will last forever. That is why this case deserved the extreme upward deviation it received. The Court listened today, the Court understood, and it is my honor and privilege to say that Justice was served.

In closing, it is important to our office that the public never forget the man we lost that day. Perry Hodge’s devotion and dedication to this community and his family are unmatched. His contributions are immeasurable as is the loss of his life. Perry Hodge never flinched in his duty. This community should never flinch in their memory of Perry Hodge. I will never flinch in the pursuit, the pursuit of justice. We were blessed to be the voice in the courtroom today.

Thank you,

Justin L. Griffith

Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney