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posted: 7/3/2010 12:01 AM

McHenry County won't seek death penalty in homeless man's slaying

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  • Kyle W. Morgan

      Kyle W. Morgan

 
 

A former Arlington Heights man charged in the grisly slaying of a homeless man last year will not face the death penalty, McHenry County prosecutors announced Friday.

Kyle W. Morgan, 25, instead will face a term of 20 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder in the January 2009 death of Robin A. Burton, a 28-year-old homeless man found brutally beaten and stabbed to death inside Morgan's Woodstock apartment. There was evidence that Burton's body had been badly mutilated after his slaying, according to sources familiar with the case.

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State's Attorney Louis Bianchi said he weighed a number of factors - including Morgan's lack of prior felony convictions - when opting against the death penalty.

"We also spoke with the (victim's) family and police before making a decision," he said.

Burton's family, Assistant McHenry County State's Attorney Michael Combs said, did not have strong feelings either way on the death penalty and were satisfied with the office's explanation of its decision.

The high cost of a capital punishment case was considered, but not an overriding factor, prosecutors said.

Morgan has pleaded not guilty. Defense attorney Matt McQuaid said Friday he and Morgan's other attorneys will explore all possible defenses, including a possible insanity plea.

"Obviously not having to face the death penalty is a good thing," he added.

At McQuaid's request, a judge Friday gave permission for a doctor to meet with Morgan in the McHenry County jail for an evaluation. Besides gauging a possible insanity defense, the doctor also is likely to explore whether Morgan is mentally fit to stand trial.

Authorities say Morgan, an artist who dubbed himself "Thrill Kill Kyle" and expressed a strong interest in serial killers, killed Burton Jan. 19, 2009, then fled the area, winding up in Nashville the next day. While Morgan was driving in the city's downtown, authorities said, a Nashville police officer spotted him and tried to make a traffic stop. Morgan sped away, driving his car on a downtown sidewalk and striking two pedestrians before colliding with a building, police said.

In January, he pleaded guilty in a Tennessee courtroom to aggravated assault charges and was sentenced to five years in prison. After serving part of that term, he was extradited to Illinois in May.

Morgan, who is being held in the county jail without bond, is scheduled to return to court Aug. 5 for a pretrial status hearing.

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