Oxygen Insider Exclusive!

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up for Free to View
Crime News Black Lives Matter

Alabama Man Accused Of Beating Man To Death With Shovel Might Have Been Motivated By Race

Morgan Barnhill called the police to report an unknown intruder breaking into his shed. Authorities, however, say Barnhill lied about the alleged burglary after badly beating Etienne Murray, who died of his injuries days later. 

By Jax Miller
Alabama Man Accused Of Beating Black Man To Death

An Alabama man is accused of beating a man to death with a shovel in what prosecutors say was a murder possibly motivated by race.

Morgan Barnhill, 27, called police on Tuesday to report a supposed burglary at his Tillman’s Corner home in Mobile, Alabama, according to CBS affiliate WKRG 5 News. At that point, he told authorities he beat the unknown intruder in the head.

The supposed intruder was later identified as Etienne Murray, 25, who succumbed to his injuries on Friday.

“Upon arrival, officers discovered [Barnhill had] observed an unknown male subject attempting to enter the shed,” police initially stated. “The victim confronted the subject and struck him with a shovel on his head.”

But authorities now say that Barnhill did, in fact, know the victim and that the burglary claims were all a lie.

Etienne Murray

“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,” authorities stated in the updated release.

Detectives allegedly found “several inconsistencies” in Barnhill’s statement.

Murray’s mother, Linda Gayle, told Mobile, Alabama Fox affiliate WALA that Barnhill and Murray had been friends — and that Barnhill had invited Murray over for a barbecue before confronting him about a missing purse.

During a bond hearing on Monday, prosecutors said that Barnhill beat Murray with a shovel and a pipe, according to WKRG. They also said that Barnhill, who is white, was motivated by the belief that Murray, who is Black, had stolen from him, and that race might have been a factor in the attack.

Barnhill then allegedly left Murray’s body for hours before finally calling the police.

Graphic photos of the victim in his hospital bed were published by WALA when he was still fighting for his life.

“After he beat my baby, he left him there, didn’t call for help, didn’t try to help,” Murray’s mother, Linda Gayle, told the outlet. “If he would’ve called for help, maybe my baby would still be alive.”

Barnhill allegedly eventually confessed to falsifying the report of a burglary, WKRG reported.

Morgan Barnhill

He was booked into the Mobile County Metro Jail on charges of murder on Saturday, according to jail records.

Requests to Mobile County District Attorney’s Office were not returned to Oxygen.com.

“I want him to know he shattered my world,” Gayle told WALA. “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?”

Morgan Barnhill’s bond has been set at $500,000. It was unclear from jail records when he was scheduled to appear in court next.

The Mobile Police Department said they are not releasing any further details at this time.