It took three years for justice to be done in the brutal stabbing death of Jomali Morales. The 43-year-old woman was murdered in February of 2011 — her body left in an elevator at the Baruch Houses on FDR Drive. Now a judge has sentenced her killer, Markeece Dunning, to 24 years-life in prison.
Morales was celebrating her 43rd birthday the night she encountered Dunning. Lured back to his apartment, she was viciously attacked, suffering 19 stab wounds. At a sentencing hearing, Dunning’s attorneys argued for leniency, saying he suffered from mental problems and substance abuse. Prosecutors wanted 25-years to life.
“Because of Markeece Dunning, Jomali Morales’ family planned her funeral on the day they should have been celebrating her 43rd birthday,” District Attorney Vance said in a written statement. “After horrifically murdering Ms. Morales, the defendant left her to die in an elevator of the Baruch Houses. It took three years to bring this brutal killer to justice, but today justice has finally been served. I hope today’s sentencing brings some measure of closure to the victim’s daughter, mother, and family.”
In court a month ago, Morales’ mother, Petra Montañez-Vitale, told Dunning “she had plans… You took away her future, her life… And not only that but you took the mother of my grandchild.” Morales left behind a teenage daughter, Constance, who had been living with her grandmother in her Grand Street apartment.
Dunning is 22 years old.