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Child dies of injuries suffered in 2015 beating

Joseph Morales

A child who was severely beaten in Laurens by her biological father in 2015 died Monday at Prisma Greenville Memorial Hospital, said Laurens County Chief Deputy Coroner Patti Canupp.

Egypt Morales was 10 years old. She was 18 months old when she was beaten into a coma by her father, Joseph Morales, during an unsupervised paternal visit.

Joseph Morales pleaded guilty to unlawful conduct toward a child and received an 18-year prison sentence in 2016.

Since the incident, Egypt Morales has suffered through multiple health issues, including seizures and cerebral palsy. She reportedly spent her short life confined to a wheelchair. She was also partially blind and unable to swallow due to the traumatic brain injuries she suffered.

An autopsy to determine the cause of death was performed Tuesday in Greenville, and Canupp said the report determined that the child’s death was due to the head injuries she had suffered in that attack.

The Laurens County Coroner’s Office and Laurens Police Department are in charge of the death investigation.

Joseph Morales must serve 85% of his 18-year sentence, but under state law, murder charges cannot be brought against him in this case. According to state statute, a death related to injuries must occur within three years for the convicted to face upgraded charges.

While this situation is undeniably tragic, it underscores the limitations imposed by existing laws,” a release from the Laurens Police Department read. “Despite our desire to pursue charges of murder or homicide by child abuse, these options are legally unavailable to us at this time under current South Carolina law.”

Morales received 18 years of a maximum 20-year sentence under state law. He will be eligible for release on June 9, 2030.

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