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Next time a white person tries to absolve themselves of any and all accusations of racism by declaring that they have a Black friend, remind them about Morgan Daniel Barnhill.

Barnhill, 27, is currently a resident of Mobile County Jail in Mobile, Alabama. According to WTVY News 4, late last month, Barnhill killed a Black man by beating him over the head with a shovel and a large pipe. He told the police he did it because he believed his victim to be a burglar breaking into his shed.

First, let’s acknowledge that catching a man breaking into a shed shouldn’t justify beating him to death if the owner of the shed isn’t in any immediate danger. Burglary, in and of itself, shouldn’t come with a death sentence. (Of course, this happened in Alabama, so this might not be a very popular opinion in that particular state.)

None of that matters in this case though, because it didn’t take very long for investigators to discover that the Black man Barnhill killed wasn’t just some random robber the assailant didn’t know. Barhill had actually killed his neighbor, 25-year-old Etienne Murray, whose mother said the two were once friends. But regardless of the alleged friendship, prosecutors told a judge during a bond hearing this week that they believe the killing was racially motivated and the police believe, at the very least, that Barnhill intentionally misled investigators regarding the nature of the killing, purporting himself to be the victim.

“Through the investigation, it was determined that the alleged victim intentionally misled officers about an attempted burglary on the 4300 block of Windy Hill Circle East,” an unnamed police officer involved with the case said, according to Atlanta BlackStar. “Detectives discovered several inconsistencies in Barnhill’s statement. And determined he filed a false report claiming an unknown male was attempting to break into a shed on his property.”

Barnhill reportedly waited hours to call the police after hitting Murray with a garden shovel and large pipe. Murray died three days after the incident, meaning he might have lived if he received medical aid sooner.

“After he beat my baby, he left him there, didn’t call for help, didn’t try for help,” Murray’s mother, Linday Gayle, said, according to WTVY. “If he would’ve called for help, maybe my baby would still be here.”

“I want him to know he has shattered my world,” she continued. “He took my baby, and he didn’t have to do that. If he feels like my child took something from him, why not call the police? Why not handle it the right way? Why take the cowardly way out and beat my child’s head and leave him there?”

Gayle also said Barnhill and her son were friends and that Murray had even been invited to a barbeque at Barnhill’s home. She said Barnhill believed Murray had stolen a purse from his home at that time.

Police have said there are currently are no additional details in the case as it’s still “an active homicide investigation.” It’s unclear what Barhill is charged with, but he’s being held on a $500,000, and if that bond is paid, he’ll be required to wear an ankle bracelet and stay on house arrest.

As of now, Barnhill is still locked up.


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