WORCESTER — Jose L. Morales — who was found guilty of second degree murder in the July 20, 2016 stabbing death of Lee A. Daniels of Thompson, Connecticut — was sentenced to life in prison Monday in Worcester Superior Court.
“Although nothing will ever bring Lee back to us, we are happy that justice was served. We are happy with the second-degree conviction and his sentence,” Heather L. Daniels, the victim’s widow, said in a statement.
Daniels leaves five children, Kyla Bruce, Leeayshia Daniels, Monay Daniels, Myka Daniels and Genesis Daniels.
Daniels was found about 7:10 p.m. with a stab wound in his chest in his car at the YMCA parking lot at 766 Main St. Daniels was pronounced dead less than a half-hour later.
On Monday, Assistant District Attorney Timothy A. Westerman recommended a sentence of life in prison with the eligibility of parole after 25 years in state prison, while Elliot M. Weinstein, attorney for the defense, recommended a sentence of life in prison with the eligibility of parole after 15 years.
In November in Superior Court, Westerman said Daniels was unarmed and the only contact the two men had was when Morales plunged a knife into Daniels’ heart.
Daniels was found slumped over inside his car.
Westerman said Morales was seen in a dark-colored sedan throwing a black-handled, folding pocket knife out of the window at 288 St. Nicholas Ave.
In addition, Westerman said the Worcester Police Department’s crime scene unit found the knife and a fingerprint on it matched the right index finger of Morales.
On Oct. 7, 2016, Morales was arrested on a fugitive from justice charge in Newark, New Jersey.
On the way back to Massachusetts, Westerman alleged that Morales said, “He was saying (expletive) about my baby mama.”
Weinstein countered that when Daniels stopped his car, he chose to yell at Morales’ girlfriend and Morales yelled back.
Daniels wouldn’t let the matter go and got out of the car, Weinstein said.
Morales of 272 Pleasant St., Apt. 8, was 20 at the time of the incident, while Daniels was 37.
Weinstein said Daniels was “agitated, angry, belligerent and drunk,” when he stopped the car while Daniels’ girlfriend urged him to get back in the car and let it go.
Weinstein said Daniels, who he described as being “muscular and bigger,” got in front of Morales and Morales “simply reacted.”
Also, back in November, Weinstein insisted that his client had no intention to kill anyone.
Weinstein said Morales acted in the moment, fearing he was going to get “shot.”
Furthermore, Weinstein insisted Morales acted “reasonably” and “responsibly” because he believed his life was in danger.
According to court documents, Morales is 5-foot-1 and weighs 110 pounds, while Daniels is 5-foot-10 and weighs about 200 to 210 pounds.
Morales had a knife in his pocket, flipped it open and stabbed Daniels once in the heart, Weinstein said.
Morales will be brought to Cedar Junction and credited 1,117 days served.
Judge Valerie A. Yarashus ruled on the sentence.
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: ‘Justice was served’: Jose Morales sentenced to life in prison for 2016 stabbing death of Lee Daniels of Conn. in Worcester Superior Court.