Kalila Taylor Maintains She's Innocent In Brutal Murder Of Curtisha Morning

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Sixteen years after a murder that stunned Suffolk County, Thursday was sentencing day for the convicted killer.  The victim was a 17-year-old homecoming queen. Prosecutors said she was stabbed dozens of times in a jealous rage.

In 1996 she had it all — youth, beauty, smarts.

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Curtisha Morning was even crowned the Riverhead High homecoming queen.

But it was all ripped away.

Morning was stabbed more than 90 times in a savage slaying, her body found in woods near the school, CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported.

“Right now, she’s able to rest in peace,” said Patrina Morning, the victim’s sister.

Curtisha Morning’s family quietly sobbed in court Thursday, when her convicted killer was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

The slain teen’s former classmate, now 35-year-old Kalila Taylor, said nothing when given the chance.

“She’s been saying she’s innocent since day one. I feel in my heart she’s innocent. Hopefully we get another appeal,” sister Katisha Taylor said.

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“We understand the tremendous amount of evidence to the contrary, but she professes her innocence. She maintains it today,” defense attorney John Loturco said.

Prosecutors said the attack was fueled by jealousy. They said Kalila Taylor believed her boyfriend — the father of her child — was dating Curtisha Morning and she snapped.

“Some things will never change. My sister’s not here, and she’s not gonna be back,” Patrina Morning said.

Justice for the murder was not swift. A jury found Kalila Taylor guilty three years after it happened, but an appellate court threw out that decision in 2004 because of faulty jury instructions.

Last month there was a second conviction. Though it came 16 years later, Morning’s family said it’s better than never.

“Justice has been served, that’s all I can say. Justice has been served,” Patrina Morning said.

Kalila Taylor will get credit for time already served, so she’ll be eligible for parole in eight years. Her attorney said he will file an appeal, although he would not say on what grounds.

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