GONZALES — Tolbert Morris will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Morris, 56, of St. Gabriel, was sentenced by 23rd Judicial District Judge Ralph Tureau on Tuesday to two consecutive life terms plus 30 years without the benefit of probation or parole for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Dutchtown resident Tammy Lanie Bowers in March 1990.
Morris received life sentences for both the aggravated rape and second-degree murder convictions, plus an additional 30 years for being found guilty of second-degree kidnapping.
Lead prosecutor Robin O’Bannon said Morris likely will serve his sentence in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
A 12-member jury convicted Morris on Sept. 13 of abducting Bowers from a Dutchtown convenience store on March 6, 1990, then raping and murdering her along River Road. Bowers’ body was discovered on March 8, 1990, on what would have been her 19th birthday.
Morris’ accomplice, Herman Frazier, who pleaded guilty in September 2010 to manslaughter, forcible rape and second-degree kidnapping, testified against Morris.
Joyce Zuvich, Bowers’ mother, said Morris’ sentencing was the end of a 22-year journey to justice in her daughter’s killing.
“I feel like we succeeded,” Zuvich said. “We didn’t let her down. We finally did it.”
Bowers’ grandmother, Margaret St. Marie, and aunt, Peggy Johnson, delivered victim impact statements before Morris’ sentencing, including a poem read aloud that was written by Bowers a few months before her death.
O’Bannon said Morris was “quite lively” and “unruly” during the family’s statements, and Morris’ attorneys already have filed a notice of appeal with the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal, which will determine if there is any basis to overturn the convictions.
Attempts to reach Morris’ attorney, Jarrett Ambeau, on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Despite a pending appeal, Zuvich said, she and her family feel they now can put the past behind them and move forward.