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posted: 1/22/2010 12:01 AM

Suspect in McHenry Co. murder admits to running down pedestrians

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  • Kyle W. Morgan

    Kyle W. Morgan


A former Arlington Heights man could soon be returning to McHenry County to face charges in the grisly 2009 slaying of a homeless man, after he pleaded guilty Thursday morning to allegations he drove over two people in downtown Nashville while trying to escape police.

Kyle W. Morgan, 25, was sentenced to five years in a Tennessee prison as part of a plea deal in which he admitted to two counts of aggravated assault alleging he ran down and seriously injured two pedestrians when he drove onto a Nashville sidewalk Jan. 20, 2009, while fleeing police, his lawyer confirmed Thursday morning.

"He acknowledged that the settlement offer is one he deemed to be in his best interests to take, and he felt that if he had gone to trial there was enough evidence to find him guilty," Nashville defense attorney John Oliva said.

Morgan will have to serve at least 30 percent of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole, Oliva added, but even so there is nothing preventing Illinois officials from bringing him back to McHenry County at any time.

"He waived extradition in January 2009," Oliva said. "Illinois has chosen not to come get him."

Nichole Owens, who heads the criminal division of the McHenry County State's Attorney's office, said her office will coordinate with the sheriff's department to bring Morgan back to Illinois. "I don't anticipate it will take longer than a week," she said.

Once that happens he will be arraigned on two counts of first-degree murder, and the state will have 120 days to decide whether to seek the death penalty.

The Nashville incident occurred about a day after a maintenance worker discovered the body of Robin A. Burton, a 28-year-old homeless man, in Morgan's Woodstock apartment. Burton had been bludgeoned and stabbed numerous times and his body had been mutilated, authorities said.

Morgan, an artist with a history of mental illness, fled after the murder, but was captured in Nashville after the crash. He has been sitting in jail in Davidson County, Tenn., ever since.

His Illinois attorney, Steve Greenberg, said Thursday he was not aware of any immediate plans to return Morgan to McHenry County. He declined to comment on how he will defend Morgan.

Investigators said they never uncovered a clear-cut motive for Burton's murder, or a strong connection between him and his accused killer. However, police did reference Morgan's MySpace Web page - since taken down by the social networking site - in which he expresses interest in serial killers and lists "The Satanic Bible" and "The Anarchist Cookbook" as two of his favorite books. He described himself on the site as "Thrill Kill Kyle" and claimed to have pen-pal relationships with several serial killers.

A collection of photos Morgan posted on the Internet showed a fascination with killers, both real and fictional. Among the photos were several of Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker in the film "The Dark Knight" and images of Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and Timothy McVeigh. Photos also showed tattoos on Morgan's back reading "Serial Killer" and "666."

A second Web site Morgan created promotes his art work, mostly Jackson Pollock-inspired abstracts.

Morgan did not have a serious criminal history before the murder allegations, but police in Arlington Heights said he was involved in a bizarre episode there in July 2008.

According to police, Morgan seriously injured himself when he cut his own wrists and jumped off a second-floor balcony in downtown Arlington Heights after an argument with his girlfriend. The girlfriend told officers she and Morgan were sitting in a residence when he suddenly got up, began chocking her then pulled out a razor and slit his wrists, police said.

Morgan spent about a week in a hospital recovering from his injuries and his girlfriend never pressed charges, police said.

His family after the murder issued a statement offering sympathy to those affected by his actions and indicating Morgan has a long history of unsuccessful battles with mental illness.