NEWARK – A Licking County judge awarded the maximum sentence to a Newark man convicted 21 times in the past year of stabbing and stabbing a Newark woman.
Earlier this month, a jury found 21-year-old Newark-born Harley Morgan guilty of attempted murder, three criminal and burglary cases, and one stalking threat after a three-day trial in Licking County’s Common Pleas court.
In September, Morgan broke into 27-year-old Haley Rakaska’s home in Newark and stabbed her and her four young children nearby over 20 times. He also hit her with a T-ball bat that her 6-year-old son had brought back to protect his mother during the attack.
During a trial on Friday, Licking County Assistant Attorney Jenny Wells ordered Judge David Branstool to impose the maximum sentence of 31.5 years in prison for physical and mental harm.
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“The state would say this is the worst form of this crime, Your Honor,” Wells said. “Without the help of the neighbors next door, Ms. Rakaska would have lay down on the floor of her living room and bled to death in front of her children.”
Rakaska stood quietly in front of the judge and told him that she was brutally assaulted in front of her children on September 16 and that her life has changed since then. As she heals physically, Rakaska said it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier emotionally. Not only did she move away from home because it no longer felt safe, but she also lost countless hours of work.
Two days after the incident, Rakaska said her eldest son had passed his seventh birthday and was wondering if his mother would survive.
“Please take into account my four innocent children when sentencing. My 7-year-old lives in constant fear that Harley will come after him for trying to help me during the attack,” she said. “My daughter asked me to tell the judge Harley shouldn’t try to kill others. My 3-year-old twins ask before bed every night if Harley will kill them. I don’t just ask for justice myself, though also for my children and their safety in the future. “
Her sister Brittany Rakaska said she feared for the lives of her sister and children.
“My 4-year-old niece asked me one day if I would be stabbed as is normal,” she said, adding that her nephew sleeps in bed with her when he stays the night because he is scared. “You are really traumatized. You lost your father in May 2020 and then almost lost your mother.”
Brittany Rakaska said the day of the incident that her newborn baby had been hospitalized for surgery and that she had spent the time hopping between hospitals for him and her son. She recounted everything her family had to do for Haley Rakaska while she recovered from washing her hair to cutting her food.
Haley Rakaska’s mother, Heather Rakaska, said she watched what the incident did to her daughter and grandchildren.
More:Victim details September stabbing incident in attempted murder in Newark
“She had to start over and rebuild her life. I would never have imagined this would happen to my child,” she said through tears. “My grandchildren are in constant fear, as is my daughter, and I just ask that this man be taken away for as long as possible so that they can grow up in a safe environment and feel safe, and my daughter can feel safe and continue to build their lives. “
Defense attorney Priya Tamilarasan urged Branstool to consider amalgamating several charges for the purpose of conviction and requested a simultaneous conviction. She found that her client is 21 years old and was not on parole or parole at the time of the incident.
Branstool agreed with the state that Morgan committed the worst form of the crime for the prosecution. He noted that evidence showed that Morgan had planned and prepared before the incident and that Rakaska would be dead if it weren’t for the grace of God.
On the recommendation of the state, Branstool imposed a prison sentence of 31.5 to 37 years in the case. The presumed prison sentence is 31.5 years, with additional time for bad behavior during incarceration being added.
Branstool agreed with the defense that Morgan had no adult criminal history, but noted that he had just been released from parole before the incident.
The judge granted Morgan 185 days credit for time in prison. After his release from prison, Morgan will have to take control five years after his release.