Darshawn Morris was sentenced to 39 years-to-life in prison in State Supreme Court Wednesday for the 2013 killing of 13-year-old Lanasha Rollerson.
Morris, 21, was found guilty of second-degree murder, rape and criminal sexual assault. Rollerson's body was found behind a garage near Morris' home. Police said she was raped and stabbed 60 times.
Rollerson’s mother Tamika Maclan addressed the court before sentencing to clear the public’s perception of her daughter.
"She had a taste of freedom and the nightlife, when she knew we were sleeping, to go out and have fun. Unfortunately, she didn't make it home one night. Lanasha was a loving, caring girl. She loved the Lord. She stayed in church every Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. A prostitute, she wasn't. She may have made some mistakes," Maclan said.
An organization to help at-risk youth was created in Rollerson’s name. The Lanasha Rose Foundation says it aims to promote self-love, self-respect, and self-discipline.
Rollerson’s aunt Karemma Morris says she was pleased with the sentence.
"I believe the sentencing was very fair. When you take a life, there is no replenishing. We can't bring her back and we still pray for his mother and his children that they can endure as well as we have, and will. We're satisfied with the fact that he hopefully will not ever see daylight again," Morris said.
Defense Attorney Robert Cutting says Morris continues to maintain his innocence. He said he will be filing an appeal to the conviction immediately.