Self-described “Bonnie and Clyde” couple is sentenced in child exploitation case


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Alabama Department of Justice states that 36-year-old Kenneth Earl Hooks of Prattville and 28-year-old Sarah Pauline Morris of Shelby County were sentenced Tuesday on child exploitation charges.

Hooks was sentenced to 120 years and two life sentences to run consecutively. For Morris, she was charged to 197 months for producing child pornography and enticing a young child to engage in sexual activity for the purpose of creating obscene images. Hooks plead guilty to the charges in February 2019 and to an additional charge of transportation of a minor for sexual purposes. Morris pled guilty in March 2019.

“This sentence very clearly reflects the seriousness of these child predator’s disgusting crimes,” said Northern District of Alabama United States Attorney Jay E. Town, “Our justice system will not tolerate these criminals who prey on innocent children.  They will now occupy bed space that has been reserved for them in a federal prison.”

“The sentencing of Hooks and Morris brings justice to two serial offenders who preyed on societies most vulnerable,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Nick S. Annan. 

The department of justice state that Hooks and Morris’ self-described “Bonnie and Clyde” crime spree included depraved acts of abuse and violence and would have undoubtedly continued without casework of the agents involved in this investigation. 

According to the department of justice, police in California found Hooks and Morris living in a desert area on the southern tip of the state after locating a red Mitsubishi Montero with an Alabama license plate there, according to a May 4, 2018, federal criminal complaint and arrest affidavit issued for Hooks in the Northern District of Alabama.

According to the affidavit, the red Mitsubishi was registered to Morris and police were searching for it because security cameras at a Walmart in Brawley, California, caught her driving it on March 30, 2018, when security officers at the store reported Morris attempting to film two young girls in a bathroom stall.

“It is important to understand that the production of child pornography is simply the filming of child rape,” added Annan.

The charges originated from criminal events that occurred in the northern district of Alabama and in the middle district of Alabama.

According to court documents, as a result of further investigation, child pornographic images were discovered on a laptop that had been subjected to forensic examination by law enforcement officers in Imperial County, California. 

On or about April 27, 2018, agents from the Department of Homeland Security in Birmingham received these images which depicted sexual exploitation of 2 prepubescent children and a teenage female under the age of 18 by Hooks in Alabama.  

During the investigation, agents learned that Hooks had transported the teenage female victim from Mississippi to Alabama with the intent of sexually assaulting her and recording it on video. 

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