Carter, 41, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and two related assault charges in connection with the case a week before his trial was scheduled to begin in Oct. 2012.
Carter wept in court Friday as he asked his family to forgive him.
“May God forgive me for my sins and have mercy on my soul,” he said. “Words can’t express how sorry I am. I hurt every day.”
Carter’s defense attorney, Steven Kiersh, had filed notice in July 2011 that he would be using an insanity defense at trial. But at sentencing Friday, Kiersh told the court that it was Carter who chose to accept the plea agreement because “he did not want his family to endure the pain of a month-long trial.”
Kiersh added that a prominent psychiatrist had evaluated Carter, and he had determined that Carter’s actions were “a crime of insanity.” Carter told mental health experts in February 2012 that “there was something evil in the house” the day he killed Morse.
Prosecutors believe, though, that Carter was in complete control of his actions on that Friday afternoon.
“Robert Carter crossed the line of decency,” Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gorman told the court. “The court cannot conclude that he did not have control over himself.”
According to the government’s evidence, Carter was alone for several hours in the home of his estranged girlfriend on the morning of October 29, 2010; and prosecutors believe that during that time he ingested cocaine. Morse, his daughter, arrived at the home around noon. Soon after she arrived, Carter went to a nearby CVS store on Georgia Avenue and purchased a Halloween mask and work gloves.
Carter then returned to the home, retrieved a gun, forced Morse into the basement, and fired a single shot through Morse’s left ear. The bullet exited the right side of her head, and she died on the basement floor, according to documents in the case.
The Halloween mask was found next to her body; the work gloves were found in an upstairs bedroom and had Morse’s blood on them.
Later that afternoon, several of Morse’s family members and friends returned to the home, and Carter held them against their will and forced them to remain on the couch. When his then-girlfriend returned home, Carter opened the door and pointed a gun at her.
Carter’s ten-year-old son lunged at him, hitting Carter in the arm just as the gun fired. Carter then fired the gun several times, striking his girlfriend in the abdomen and his son in the leg, the documents say.
Carter fled the scene, carjacking a MetroAccess vehicle which was being used to transport an 84-year-old woman. Carter eventually forced that woman out of the vehicle. He then led the police on a high-speed chase through Prince George’s County, before crashing the vehicle into a building in Capitol Heights.
Before sentencing, Judge Thomas Motley asked prosecutors what they believed the Halloween mask was used for. Gorman said they believed Carter either wore the mask when he shot Morse, or perhaps he was going to leave the mask and claim that someone else had shot her.
When Motley asked Carter what he used the mask for, Carter said that he purchased the mask because it was Halloween and he was going to “watch the game and hand out candy.”
A member of Morse’s family read letters to the court written by Carter’s remaining children. The letters described the financial hardship and mental issues the family has endured since that fatal Friday.
“This person was supposed to protect us from harm, not inflict pain and suffering,” one of the letters read.
Another letter expressed relief that Carter was behind bars.
“Thank you for catching him and keeping us safe,” the letter said.
A press release from the US Attorney’s Office is below. Sentencing documents have been added to this post.
District Man Sentenced to 70 Years in Prison For Murder of 13-Year-Old Daughter, Shooting of Two Others-Defendant Wounded Ex-Girlfriend and Another Child in the Attack-
WASHINGTON - Robert Carter, 41, was sentenced today to70 years in prison on charges stemming from the killing of his 13-year-old daughter and the wounding of his ex-girlfriend and a 10-year-old boy, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Carter, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty in October 2012 to one count of first-degree murder while armed and two counts of assault with intent to kill while armed. He was sentenced in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia by the Honorable Thomas J. Motley. Judge Motley sentenced Carter to 45 years in prison for the murder and 25 years for the other charges.
According to the government’s evidence, Carter and his then-girlfriend, Moria Morse, were estranged and he was no longer living with her and the family at the time of the murder. On Oct. 29, 2010, he was at their home in the 500 block of Madison Street NW, alone there for several hours. That afternoon, he went to a store and purchased a Halloween mask and a pair of work gloves. When he returned, he took his daughter, Angel Morse, 13, to the basement. He shot the teenager once in the head. The Halloween mask was later found on the floor, next to the girl, and the gloves were found elsewhere in the house, with her blood on them.
Within an hour, several family members and acquaintances began returning to the home. Carter held them against their will, including Moria Morse’s two sons, 6 and 10, and the defendant’s and Moria Morse’s 16-year-old daughter, who he forced to sit on a couch.
At one point, Carter told the 16-year-old that Angel was in the basement and that he had killed her. When his then-girlfriend returned home, Carter went to the front door, opened it, and pointed a gun at her. The 10-year-old boy jumped up from a couch and lunged at Carter, striking his arm as he began to fire the gun. Carter fired the gun several times, hitting his then-girlfriend once in the abdomen and the 10-year-old once in the leg.
After shooting the gun several more times, Carter stole a friend’s car and fled. He abandoned the vehicle in order to carjack a MetroAccess sedan, taking control of that car with an 84-year-old passenger inside. As Carter kept driving, the woman screamed, “You’re passing my house! This is my block? I’m sick and I’m crippled! Please get me to my house” She was eventually released unharmed. But Carter continued to flee, leading local police officers on a chase into Prince George’s County, where he crashed the MetroAccess car into a building in Capitol Heights. He has been in custody since his arrest after the crash.
“Robert Carter committed one violent act after another in a terrifying afternoon, killing his own 13-year-old daughter, shooting two other innocent victims, and then trying to make his escape by carjacking a MetroAccess car with an elderly passenger inside,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “His complete lack of compassion was astounding and the community will be safer with this sentence that should put him in prison for the rest of his life.”
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of the detectives, officers and crime scene technicians who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department. He also commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegals Phaylyn Hunt, Sandra Lane, and Alesha Matthews Yette, Victim Advocate Marcy Rinker, Witness Security Specialist Debra Cannon, Information Technology Specialist Leif Hickling, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys David J. Gorman and Erin O. Lyons, who prosecuted the case.