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updated: 9/25/2013 7:23 PM

Store clerk recounts day gun jammed during Beach Park robbery

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  • Montago Suggs, of Kenosha, Wis., sits at his table during his murder trial Tuesday at the Lake County courthouse in Waukegan. Suggs is accused of killing Melinda Morrell of Round Lake Park during a robbery at a check cashing store in Waukegan in 2007.

       Montago Suggs, of Kenosha, Wis., sits at his table during his murder trial Tuesday at the Lake County courthouse in Waukegan. Suggs is accused of killing Melinda Morrell of Round Lake Park during a robbery at a check cashing store in Waukegan in 2007.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
 

A former Beach Park grocery clerk testified Wednesday that he was surprised to hear a "click" from the gun pointed at the back of his head as he lay on the store floor in 2007.

Francisco Garcia, now 37, said he realized the gun pointed at him by Montego Suggs had jammed when it was fired, so he hopped up off the floor of the Ma and Pa's Grocery Store and ducked for cover.

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"After I heard the click, I looked back and saw him looking at the gun surprised," Garcia testified at Suggs' trial at the Lake County courthouse. "I got up right away, and (Suggs) ran out the door."

Suggs, now 29, of Kenosha, Wis., is on trial for the first-degree murder of Melinda Morrell, 23, of Round Lake Park. Authorities say it occurred during a robbery at the Check N' Go in Waukegan, five days before the Beach Park robbery.

Prosecutors said Suggs needed cash so badly he entered the Check N' Go on the 1100 block of Green Bay Road on May 21, 2007, and confronted Morrell, who was an employee. Officials said Suggs shot her execution-style in the back of the head while she lay on the floor, then stole $2,000.

Morrell's body was discovered by a customer about 5:15 p.m. that day.

Authorities said the shell casing from the weapon that killed Morrell was left at the scene and matched the gun that was pointed at Garcia at the Ma and Pa's Grocery Store.

Authorities said Suggs entered the grocery store on the 3700 block of Green Bay Road and forced Garcia to lie on the floor behind the counter while he took cash out of the register.

After a customer entered and was ordered to the ground, Suggs tried to shoot Garcia, authorities said.

When the weapon misfired, Suggs ran out of the building and dropped the gun after slipping on wet pavement, authorities said.

Garcia testified he saw Suggs' Lincoln Town Car leave the store's parking lot and turn east on Yorkhouse Road.

"I hit the emergency button while the customer in the store ran to the window and saw the license plates," Garcia said. "He began repeating them over and over to make sure he wouldn't forget them."

Garcia told police the make of the car, the license plate numbers and a description of the thief, Garcia said, and police stopped the car in Wisconsin.

Suggs confessed to that robbery after the first day of questioning, authorities said, then confessed to the Check N' Go murder four days later.

However, Keith Grant, chief of special defense for the Lake County public defender's office, has said Suggs was coerced into confessing to the murder after four days of interrogation.

Suggs is being held in the Lake County jail without bail.

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