San Diego man had history of sexual assault

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

A San Diego man who was convicted last year on five felony counts in connection with the kidnapping and rape of a mother and her daughter was given five life sentences Monday.

District Judge Alex Gabert pronounced the sentence against Abel Morin Jr., who was found guilty in November of two counts of sexual assault, one count of aggravated sexual assault, one count of aggravated kidnapping and one count of burglary of a habitation in connection with the July 22, 2006 incident.

Morin will serve the five life sentences concurrently.

Prosecutor Jon West said the sentence was appropriate because of the circumstances of the case.

"The defendant raped a mom in front of her daughter, and raped a daughter in front of her mom. He then kidnapped the girl and raped her again," West said. "Those circumstances alone justify a life sentence."

Under state law, the life sentences were mandatory, West said, because Morin had a prior conviction in 2001 in Jim Wells County for aggravated sexual assault of a child.

West said this was the first time in recent history that a life sentence had been issued in Duval County for a crime other than murder, and he hoped this would send a message to the community.

"I hope that that type of sentence is an indication that we've turned a corner, that juries are going to be protecting women, children and other individuals from violent crime," West said. "We still have a lot of violence for such a small community, but I hope that this will make a statement that this needs to change."

Attorneys for Morin announced their intent to appeal the convictions following Monday's hearing.