Man sentenced to 58 years for murder

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light

A Mississippi man was sentenced to 58 years in prison on Thursday for the 2019 murder of a man in Midlothian.

Woodrow Stevenson Head Jr., 33, of Purvis, Mississippi, accepted a sentence of 58 years in prison in the 40th Judicial District Court of Ellis County. 

On Aug. 21, 2019, Head was indicted for capital murder for the death of 52-year-old James Morris of Alvarado on June 15 of that year.  Head agreed to plead guilty to the charge of murder and accept a 58-year sentence as part of a plea bargain agreement with the State of Texas.

Head brutally killed Morris with a knife while Morris was driving the pair to Walmart in Morris’s pickup truck. Officers called to the 1100 block of Auger Road about 7:30 a.m. on June 17 found Morris' body in the truck on a dirt road just off Auger.

According to a Daily Light and Mirror report at the time, the reporting party stated a GMC single cab pickup truck was parked at that location, noting it was visible from the main roadway. Upon arrival at the scene, officers located the victim, who was declared deceased in the pickup upon their arrival.

Midlothian police said that on the evening of June 15, Morris was killed while driving his vehicle on the northbound service road of U.S. Highway 67 in Midlothian. The suspect in the murder then drove Morris’s vehicle from there and abandoned both the vehicle and body. Robbery was the motive in the crime, investigators said.

Police secured an arrest warrant for Head and found he was already in custody in the Cooke County Detention Center in Gainesville on unrelated drug charges: marijuana possession and manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance.

After Head was sentenced by Judge Bob Carroll, Morris’s stepdaughter read the family’s victim impact statement.  She described Morris as the man who would give someone the shirt off their back, and she described the impact of the loss of her dad.

 “58 years may seem like a lifetime but the real lifetime is everything we lost,” she said.

“We are glad that this agreement allows Mr. Morris’s family to close this traumatic chapter of their lives without the anxiety and uncertainty of a trial,” Assistant County & District Attorney Grace Pandithurai said in a statement after the hearing. “This agreement was made with their full support. 

“Even if Head were sentenced to life in prison for murder, he would still be eligible for parole consideration after 30 years,” Pandithurai added. “With this agreement, he is not eligible for parole consideration for 29 years. In my experience, the vicious nature of his crime makes it unlikely that he would be paroled at that time. I also want to thank the Midlothian Police Department for their work in investigating this heinous crime.”