Victim's employee found guilty in cornfield slaying


A Carroll County Circuit Court jury yesterday convicted Abras Morrison, 21, of first-degree murder in the death of a 74-year-old North Baltimore woman who was stabbed and left to die in a Hampstead cornfield last year.

After nine hours of deliberations, the six-man, six-woman panel returned guilty verdicts on eight of the nine charges against Morrison.

In addition to the first-degree murder conviction, the jury found .. Morrison guilty of felony murder in a kidnapping, felony murder in a robbery, kidnapping, robbery, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and conspiracy to commit robbery.

He was acquitted of a second-degree murder count.

"We're very pleased with the verdicts," said State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman. "It was a very just verdict."

Morrison, a Baltimore County man who was employed as a nurse's aide by Margaret Cullen and her ailing husband, faces life without parole when he is sentenced by Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold on Oct. 22.

The jury got the case early yesterday after a week of testimony. Jurors asked Judge Arnold three questions at 4 p.m., and returned with their verdicts about 6:30 p.m.

As the jury foreman read the verdicts, Morrison first peered at a wall, then slumped in his chair, looked straight ahead and stretched.

Morrison had made a tape-recorded confession to Baltimore police last August that implicated himself and Troy Shellington, a 21-year-old friend who also is charged with first-degree murder in the case.

"Obviously, the jury didn't agree with our theory that my client's statement wasn't taken properly," Morrison's defense attorney, Michael Kaplan, said after yesterday's verdict. "If they [jurors] had decided that, then they would have had to ignore the statement and find him innocent."

Mr. Shellington's trial is scheduled for Sept. 21.

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