A Utah man who attempted to take a young girl from her home only to be thwarted by her stepfather was sentenced to at least six years in prison.
Troy Morley, 49, received a sentence of six years to life on Oct. 26 after pleading guilty to one count of child kidnapping, ABC 30 Action News reports. Additional charges of burglary, criminal trespassing, and interference with an arresting officer were dropped as part of the plea bargain that Morley made with prosecutors in August.
The charges against Morley arose from an incident in the early morning of Nov. 7, 2014, in which he entered a home in the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy and took a 5-year-old girl from her bed. He reportedly convinced the girl to go with him and then tried to leave through the front door with her in his arms.
The noise reportedly awoke the girls' parents, and the girl's stepfather, Aaron Edson, followed Morley outside and calmly asked for his daughter back, according to police. Morley handed over the girl and was later arrested several blocks away.
The Edsons said their daughter, who has cerebral palsy, has difficulty walking on her own, so they knew something was wrong when they heard her voice and the front door opening around 4:30 a.m.
The Roy, Utah, man reportedly sobbed in court as the sentence was handed down.
"I had a good job, I had a good life, and I gave it up," Morley, a former computer engineer who has a daughter of his own, said at the sentencing hearing, according to ABC 30 Action News.
Morley's life reportedly took a turn for the worse when he became addicted to methamphetamines in February 2014.
Morley was high on meth during the Nov. 7 abduction attempt and tried to take the girl because he believed she would protect him from some kind of danger, according to court documents filed before the sentencing. When Edson followed him outside, Morley reportedly said he needed to go to a church and ranted about the FBI before handing over the girl.
Morley had been traveling back to his home in Roy from Nevada at the time the incident occurred. He decided to stop at a hotel in the Salt Lake City area because he was tired.
A police officer's court testimony in January revealed that after some bizarre incidences at the hotel, Morley wandered into a nearby neighborhood in a drug-induced paranoia and started knocking on doors asking for help, the Associated Press reported at the time. He then entered the Edsons' home through an unlocked door and found the girl in her bedroom.
During that same court hearing, Morley's father, Gary Stokes, claimed someone had slipped his son drugs that day and that he didn't know what he was doing. He also said that his son had been dealing with the deaths of several family members in the days before the incident.
Judge Charlene Barlow noted in the Oct. 26 sentencing that Morley had accepted the plea deal partly because he didn't want his young victim to have to testify in court, ABC 30 Action News reports.
"We can scare ourselves about what would have happened or could have happened," she said. "Thankfully, we don't have to scare ourselves."
Although the girl was not physically harmed in the kidnapping attempt, her parents said she was so traumatized by the "scary thing" that happened that they eventually had to move to a new home.
After Morley has served the minimum of six years, a parole board will determine how much longer he will have to remain in prison. He will also have to register as a sex offender as part of his sentence.