Police: Alabama Man Bashes His Black Friend’s Head In with a Shovel, Claiming He Thought Man Was a Burglar, Then His Story Quickly Fell Apart

·3 min read

A $500,000 bond is set for a Mobile, Alabama, man who police say killed another man by hitting him over the head with a shovel and pipe. Prosecutors on the case told a judge at a bond hearing they believe the assault might have been racially motivated.

The attacker was white, the victim was Black.

Etienne Murrary (left), Morgan Barnhill (right)/Mugshot
Etienne Murrary (left), Morgan Barnhill (right)/Mugshot

Morgan Daniel Barnhill, 27, originally told the officers in the Mobile Police Department he struck a man because he thought an unknown burglar was breaking into his shed on March 29.

However, authorities say an investigation swiftly uncovered the man who knew the person he bashed in the head with two sharp and heavy objects. It was his neighbor, a 25-year-old Black man named Etienne Murray.

An officer close to the case said, “Through the investigation, it was determined that the alleged victim (Barnhill) intentionally misled officers about an attempted burglary on the 4300 block of Windy Hill Circle East.”

“Detectives discovered several inconsistencies in Barnhill’s statement,” the source continued. “And determined he filed a false report claiming an unknown male was attempting to break into a shed on his property.”

Barnhill assaulted Murray with a garden shovel and a pipe and waited hours before calling authorities to report his injuries or the alleged crime he said he was preventing. Murray died three days later on April 1.

Police said there were no additional details about the incident, calling it “an active homicide investigation.”

Barnhill’s bail bond was set for $500,000 on April 4. Should the bond be met, he will be required to wear an ankle bracelet and stay on house arrest, WKRG reports.

The deceased’s mother said the two men were friends and her son was even invited over to Barnhill’s home for a barbecue. She claimed Barnhill believed Murray stole a purse from his property.

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

“I want him to know he has shattered my world,” the bereaved mother 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?”

The mother said she doesn’t “want anything bad to happen” to the man responsible for her son’s death.

“I don’t want him to die because I don’t want any other mother feeling the pain that I feel right now,” Gayle said. “No mother should have to bury her child, especially to senseless violence like this.”

A bail bond has not been met for Barnhill and he remains incarcerated in a Mobile County Jail in Alabama.