Crime

Prosecutors again reviewing 2009 death of Sheena Morris. Parents hope for answers from panel

Kelly Osborn protests in front of Bradenton Beach City Hall the closed investigation and findings of the Bradenton Beach Police into the death of her daughter, Sheena Morris, who was found dead in the shower of a motel in 2009. Osborn believes there is evidence that her daughter was murdered and the that the investigation was botched.
Kelly Osborn protests in front of Bradenton Beach City Hall the closed investigation and findings of the Bradenton Beach Police into the death of her daughter, Sheena Morris, who was found dead in the shower of a motel in 2009. Osborn believes there is evidence that her daughter was murdered and the that the investigation was botched. ttompkins@bradenton.com

Prosecutors are again reviewing the 2009 death of Sheena Morris after receiving new possible evidence in the case from her parents who have never believed she killed herself.

On New Year’s Day in 2009, police found the 22-year-old Morris dead, hanging in the shower of her room at the Bridge Walk Resort in Bradenton Beach. Morris and her fiance, Guiseppe “Joe” Genoese, had checked into the hotel a couple days prior for a New Year’s beach getaway.

The couple, who had a troubled history, had gotten into an argument that created a loud enough disturbance that police were called to the resort early the morning of the day she died.

Morris’s death was ruled a suicide by the Bradenton Beach Police Department and the District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office. But her parents, Kelly Osborne and David Morris, have never accepted that she killed herself.

About a year and a half after her death, Osborne had Morris’s body exhumed and a second autopsy performed by a New York pathologist who also concluded that the cause of death was asphyxia due to neck compression due to hanging. However, he found the manner of death was undetermined.

Three crime scene consultants were also contracted by the family, each of whom wrote reports claiming it was a “staged crime scene.” Osborne publicly blamed Genoese and fought to have the case investigated by a state or federal agency, eventually leading to the case being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

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Sheena Morris provided

But the FDLE and later the State Attorney’s Office, which reviewed the findings, concluded that Morris had killed herself and found no evidence that someone else had killed her.

Morris had troubled mental health history. She had previously been hospitalized for psychiatric care; suffered from major depression; had contentious relationships with her fiance and her parents before her death; and had been upset over the recent suicide of a friend who was also found hanging from a dog collar and the one-year anniversary of the death an ex-boyfriend.

Morris’s parents said they have presented to the state attorney’s office new evidence obtained after the FDLE investigation. They think it will prove their daughter didn’t kill herself, State Attorney Ed Brodksy said.

Brodsky said his office is now reviewing the case.

Brodsky would not discuss what the new evidence is, citing ethical constraints.

Morris’ parents are hopeful, they said.

“I don’t want to disclose exactly what it is because I don’t want to hamper the case should it be reopened,” Osborne said. “We have had this information for quite some time, really not knowing what to do with it because it didn’t seem to me that they were interested .”

Bradenton Beach police have not reopened its case. The new evidence has not been shared with them, police Sgt. Lenard Diaz, the lead detective on the case, told the Bradenton Herald.

The parents chose to bring the evidence to the State Attorney’s office, Morris explained, because they don’t trust FDLE or Bradenton Beach police to handle it. Osborne said she didn’t feel like law enforcement had any interest in solving her daughter’s case.

“I feel a little better about Mr. Brodsky himself looking into this,” Morris said. “I couldn’t think of any other agency that’s involved, that I would trust. At this point, we are trusting Mr. Brodsky and that he will do the right thing.”

Police are stranding behind their investigation, which Diaz said was “based on facts and evidence.”

Osborne said she is “sitting on pins and needle, waiting and hoping to see what happened.”

At 6 p.m. on Monday night, Morris’s parents are among those who will be participating in a panel discussion about the case at Ringling College’s Larry Thompson Academic Center.

Brodsky was invited but he will not attend, he told the Bradenton Herald, because he cannot be part of a discussion of the case since his office is now reviewing it. Diaz said he was not invited to attend nor would he.

Morris said he hopes the panel will help provide some answers, although it is unclear what officials, if any, would be present.

Jessica De Leon has been covering crime, courts and law enforcement for the Bradenton Herald since 2013. She has won numerous awards for her coverage including the Florida Press Club’s Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting in 2016 for her coverage into the death of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas.
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