MOBILE, Ala. (TCD) -- A 29-year-old man pleaded guilty to killing a man not long before he was scheduled to go to trial for the charge.
AL.com reports Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood announced Morgan Barnhill pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Feb. 6, to intentional murder for the death of Etienne Murray. Jury selection had reportedly already started when he changed his plea.
Blackwood said in a statement, "We are pleased that Mr. Barnhill admitted to the brutal crime for which he was indicted by a Mobile County Grand Jury. This has been extremely hard on the victim’s family, and we hope this justice provides some closure to them."
On March 29, 2022, at 3:22 a.m., Mobile Police Department officers went to the 4300 block of Windy Hill Circle East for a possible burglary and learned Barnhill allegedly saw Murray trying to enter a shed on his property, so Barnhill hit him over the head with the shovel.
During the investigation, however, Mobile Police said Barnhill "intentionally misled officers about an attempted burglary" on his property. They reportedly noticed inconsistencies in his statements and concluded he made the fake call about the burglary. He was arrested for murder after Murray died on April 1, 2022.
According to WKRG-TV, Blackwood, the district attorney, said Barnhill "lured" Murray to his home by pretending they were attending a barbecue together. When Murray arrived and started walking away from Barnhill, Barnhill hit him in the head with a shovel.
Blackfoot said in the statement, "Barnhill continued to hit Murray numerous times in the head with the shovel, as well as a 2×4. Barnhill tied up Murray and dragged him to the backyard where Murray was left severely injured and unconscious."
AL.com reports Barnhill allegedly believed Murray stole from him. He will be sentenced March 4 and faces 20 years to life in prison.