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Man sentenced to 13 years for aggravated assault

More than a year after her house was broken into and her face smashed with a heavy glass vase, JoAnn Maniak still is afraid to be home alone in the dark.

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Tommy Ray Morgan

More than a year after her house was broken into and her face smashed with a heavy glass vase, JoAnn Maniak still is afraid to be home alone in the dark.

"I miss going out with my friends at night, because I'm afraid to go home in the dark," Maniak said Thursday in State District Court in Duluth during the sentencing hearing of the man convicted of assaulting her.

Maniak said she also still has pain in her face and will have to have more surgery this month to repair the damage Tommy Ray Morgan caused on May 18, 2014. The emotional scars may last even longer.

"If I go anywhere, day or night, when I get home I look around," she said.

Morgan, who was convicted in March of breaking into Maniak's Lincoln Park neighborhood home, assaulting her and making off with her cell phone, two purses and a box of jewelry, was sentenced Thursday to 13 years and four months in prison.

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Elizabeth Polling, a defense attorney for Morgan, argued for a sentence of seven years and four months due to mitigating circumstances, which she said included child abuse, birth defects and addiction. Prosecutor Jon Holets asked for a 30-year sentence.

Polling said Morgan lived in an abusive foster home from an early age, where he was exposed to drugs and alcohol. These early experiences, along with Morgan's subsequent problems with addiction, affected his impulse control and ability to distinguish right from wrong, Polling said.

"He was placed in a situation that no one, let alone a child, could overcome," she said.

But Holets argued that Morgan was given resources to turn his life around, and did not take advantage of them.

"I do certainly understand that Mr. Morgan has had an addiction problem for a long time," Holets said. "Each time he has an addiction problem, each time he's given resources and each time he's failed to take advantage of them."

Both Morgan and Maniak made sometimes-tearful statements to Judge Theresa Neo prior to her decision on sentencing.

In Morgan's statement he mentioned his family, asking the judge to consider the fact that a harsher punishment would prevent him from seeing his children.

"I have one boy and one girl," Morgan said. "I refuse to not be in their lives or let them grow up without a dad."

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In her statement, Maniak also mentioned her family. She said she has missed time with her grandchildren because of her medical issues and that "when they ask me what happened, I have to lie."

Neo said she was sympathetic to Morgan's struggle with addiction, but that the severity of his crime warranted a longer sentence than his attorneys recommended.

"We all understand addiction ... but we also understand that at some point you have to be responsible for your actions," Neo said. "There were options and you didn't take them."

Morgan was sentenced Thursday for multiple crimes, including seven charges stemming from the incident at Maniak's home: first-degree assault, first-degree aggravated robbery, first-degree burglary, three counts of financial transaction card fraud for using Maniak's credit cards, and fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance. He also was sentenced for aggravated first-degree robbery for holding up a Subway restaurant at gunpoint a few weeks before the home invasion.

Morgan received a 13-year, four-month prison sentence in the assault case. The sentences for the other crimes will be served concurrently.

However, the sentences for all those crimes were ordered to be served concurrently rather than consecutively - meaning he'll serve only as much time as the longest sentence, which was given for his assault conviction.

Morgan robbed the Lincoln Park Subway restaurant at gunpoint on April 29, 2014. In that case, police said Morgan was arrested after officers tracked his footprints through fresh snow.

Morgan was out of jail on pretrial supervised release for that crime when authorities said he carried out the home invasion. GPS records verified that he wore his ankle bracelet during the robbery at Maniak's home before cutting it off the next day, according to the criminal complaint.

Related Topics: CRIME
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