Duluth man was beaten to death for 60 cents
DULUTH - The two men accused of robbing and killing a Duluth man whose body was found behind the YMCA last week made off with 60 cents, according to criminal complaints filed Tuesday.
Isaac Louis Johnson, 24, and Antonio Sinclair Lewis, 21, both of Duluth, are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting first-degree aggravated robbery in the death of Albert George Morrison, 34.
Duluth police said each defendant is pointing at the other as the main perpetrator of the murder.
According to the criminal complaints:
Johnson told police on Friday that Lewis assaulted Morrison in the alley after luring him there with the ruse of a promise of a drink.
Duluth police were led to Johnson and Lewis after reviewing video surveillance from the Holiday Center Mall, less than a block from where Morrison's body was found at 11:42 p.m. Wednesday. The video shows Morrison and the defendants walking away from the west entrance of the center. Six minutes later, the defendants are observed entering the center without Morrison.
The victim was still warm with no sign of lividity, but was not breathing and had no pulse when he was found. His pockets were pulled out and empty. His shoes and socks were removed and lying nearby. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. He had no defensive wounds and did not possess a weapon.
Police executed a search warrant at Lewis' last known address, and Morrison's Minnesota identification card and bus pass were found nearby.
Johnson told police that Lewis punched and kicked Morrison, causing the victim to fall on his face. The victim was found face down. Johnson said the purpose of the assault was for Lewis to rob Morrison. He said his co-defendant went through Morrison's pockets looking for money and ultimately took the victim's identification and the 60 cents that he possessed.
Johnson said he flipped Morrison's body over at Lewis' direction.
Lewis first told police that he gave Morrison a drink of vodka around the corner from the Superior Street entrance to the Holiday Center Mall. He claimed that neither he nor Johnson participated in an assault or robbery of Morrison.
But on Sunday, Lewis contacted a Duluth police investigator and said he wanted to talk at the jail. He said that he had lied to police about what happened because he feared being labeled a snitch. He said he wanted to tell the truth after learning that Johnson was accusing him.
Lewis said they were in the alley when Morrison swung at Johnson. Lewis said he then punched Morrison. He said his co-defendant then repeatedly struck Morrison, causing him to fall to the ground. He said Johnson continued the assault while Morrison made a "snoring'' sound from the ground. He denied removing the victim's shoes and socks or going through his pockets, and said Johnson did so.
Public defender Cindy Evenson told the court that Johnson, who has a lengthy criminal record, told her he is the victim of a traumatic brain injury in 1992. She said she had to read the complaint to him because he has a difficult time reading. She said he has lived here for four years and has a fiancé and a 1-year-old stepson. Johnson has 20 criminal cases filed against him in St. Louis, Hennepin, Ramsey and Dakota counties. He was scheduled for a trial in Duluth in September on a charge of first-degree aggravated robbery.
Judge Shaun Floerke set Johnson's bail at $500,000 as requested by St. Louis County prosecutor Nathaniel Stumme, who called the crime a "brutal and senseless beating.''
Evenson told the court that Lewis was born and raised in Minneapolis and has lived in Duluth for 2½ years. She said he has a daughter less than a year old and a girlfriend in Duluth. Lewis's only prior criminal record is a domestic assault and a conviction for possessing a small amount of marijuana. Floerke set Lewis's bail at $300,000.
Morrison was a promising student-athlete at Denfeld High School, but his family said he never completely recovered from an earlier street beating that left him with brain damage at age 19.
Both defendants are being held in the St. Louis County Jail. Their next court hearings are scheduled for Aug. 12.