Investigators are building a murder case after Wednesday’s discovery of human remains ruled Thursday to be those of Christina Morris.
She was last seen in 2014 with Enrique Arochi who was later arrested and convicted of kidnapping her.
Without a body the most that prosecutors could charge Arochi with at that time was kidnapping.
Now much of the same kidnapping evidence will be used in a new murder case against Arochi, said long time prosecutor and criminal defense attorney Toby Shook.
“I think they’ll make a decision quickly,” Shook said.
Investigators spent three days gathering new evidence at the location in Anna where construction workers found the woman’s body Wednesday.
Three years of wind, rain and animals may have disturbed the crime scene but Shook said a murder case will not depend on proving exactly how Morris died as long as the Medical Examiner can say it was the result of homicide.
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“Really the key for the prosecution is that they were able to identify the body,” Shook said. “The evidence that the prosecution put on in the kidnapping trial would be a blue print for the type of evidence they would use in a murder case.”
In his kidnapping trial, jurors saw video of Morris leaving the Shops at Legacy with Arochi. Her DNA was found in the trunk of his car. His cell phone signal was received by a tower in Anna very close to where her body was found. Volunteers and authorities had searched that area several times before in the years since her death.
Arochi has repeatedly denied any role in the crime but authorities said his statements have been inconsistent.
“I think the evidence is pretty strong that Mr. Arochi is responsible,” Shook said.
The attorney said a capital murder charge with a possible death sentence in a new case is not likely for Arochi since he’s already been tried for kidnapping. Charging for that again would be required for a capital case but that is forbidden by double jeopardy rules.
However, a new murder conviction could bring a second life prison sentence.
“They could ask a judge to stack that sentence on top of his kidnapping case,” Shook said.
Arochi’s current life sentence carries a possibility of parole in 30 years but a consecutive life sentence would start counting years after the first one, essentially life without parole.
Authorities appeared to be finishing crime scene recovery efforts late Friday but a Plano Police spokesperson said there would be no official announcement this week about any new charges. She said investigators will need more time to review all the evidence they were able to recover.