Houston man sentenced to life without parole for murder of Desert Storm vet

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston man has been sentenced for the murder of a Marine Corps veteran during a home invasion in Cypress in November 2018.

Dwayne Ernest Wharton was convicted of capital murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the shooting death of Leandro Morales Jr, Harris County district attorney, Kim Ogg announced on Thursday.

"A Harris County jury made the right decision in locking this brazen and violent criminal behind bars for the rest of his life," Ogg said. "A person who breaks into a home at 11:30 a.m. on a Thursday with a loaded pistol with a laser sight obviously has bad intentions, and the consequences have to match the crime."

Morales was home with his wife, when Wharton and another suspect, Bobby Joe Turner, who is also charged with capital murder, smashed in through the back door.

Morales' wife investigator's she heard a noise at the back door and heard a gunshot inside the house. Morales went to confront the two suspects and was shot after a red dot from the laser sight was pointed at him.

Assistant District Attorney Garrett Moore, who prosecuted the case with ADA Cameron Calligan, chief of the Organized Crime Division, said jurors were thoughtful and deliberate in coming to the right verdict.

"We want to thank the jury for their complete attention," Moore said. "It was clearly a weighty decision for them, and they really did their due diligence in coming to their verdict."

Morales served in the 2nd Tank Battalion and fought in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. He was in active duty for four years and was married for 26 years.

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