Man who killed veteran during Cypress home invasion sentenced to life in prison without parole, Harris County DA says

Dwayne Ernest Wharton, 22, right, was convicted of capital murder for killing Leandro Morales Jr., 47, left, who was home with his wife when police said Wharton and another man smashed through the back door in November 2018. (Harris County DA Kim Ogg's Office)

CYPRESS, Texas – A Houston man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing a Marine Corps veteran during a home invasion in Cypress in 2018, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Thursday.

Dwayne Ernest Wharton, 22, was convicted of capital murder for killing Leandro Morales Jr., 47, who was home with his wife when police said Wharton and another man smashed through the back door in November 2018.

“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.”

Police said Morales confronted the attackers, who chose the home randomly. According to police, Morales’ wife saw the red dot from the laser sight on her husband. Another man, Bobby Joe Turner, 21, is accused of entering the home with Wharton and is also charged with capital murder, Ogg said. His case is pending.

The district attorney’s office said Morales, who was married 26 years, served four years on active duty in the Marine Corps. His military medals and awards were mounted in a frame on the wall of his home when he was killed, Ogg’s office said. He served in the 2nd Tank Battalion and fought in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.

“We want to thank the jury for their complete attention,” Assistant District Attorney Garrett Moore, who prosecuted the case, said. “It was clearly a weighty decision for them, and they really did their due diligence in coming to their verdict.”


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