Confession Is Ruled Admissible In Kidnap-murder Trial

February 26, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

The plan was simple enough at first, when all Abras Morrison thoughtabout was having his forgery charges dropped.

"I just didn't wanta criminal record," he told police last August, as he recalled earlyefforts to convince the 74-year-old North Baltimore woman he worked for to drop the charges.

But his clean record became tainted with charges of first-degree murder and kidnapping.

"Well, I'm still on the hook for the $2,000. It just doesn't make sense that all of this happened, and I still owe the $2,000," Morrison told Baltimore homicide detectives during a 50-minute confession in the early hours of Aug. 25. "It was not something that we wanted to happen."

That confession, which Morrison and his attorney Leonard S. Friedman tried to have removed from evidence during a suppression hearing before Carroll County Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. Monday, formed the basis for charges arising out of the deathof Margaret Cullen, whose stabbed, beaten and decomposed body was found in a Hampstead cornfield on Aug. 25.

After a nearly 4 1/2-hourhearing, Burns refused to bar the confession from being admitted as evidence in Morrison's trial, which begins March 16.

Morrison, of Baltimore County, and Troy Dominic Shellington, a West Baltimore man who became friends with Morrison in church, were indicted on the murder and kidnapping charges by a Carroll grand jury. Both 20-year-old men are being held in the Baltimore City Jail on $1 million full bond.

According to Morrison's confession, he was becoming increasingly frustrated with the amount of work Cullen demanded as well as with her reduction of the amount of money she was paying him for the work.

He began as a nursing assistant for Cullen and her ailing husband, hired through a Towson company. He was paid $509 for his nursing assistant work, but Cullen offered him an additional $300 a week for doing odd jobs for her.

"I was asked to do other things, things that Ireally didn't know how to do," he said in his confession. "I just saw it as me being overworked and underpaid."

Police charge that he forged Cullen's signature on one of her Signet Bank personal checks to pay himself $2,000 because he didn't think the arrangement "was fair."

Morrison and Shellington -- who also is said to have worked for Cullen for a short time -- then decided to persuade Cullen to drop the forgery charges.

After strapping her to a chair, they were able to convince her to phone a bank manager to say that she wanted to drop the charges. However, a note left on the front door to keep a private nurse from coming in also caused the bank manager to return to her office without seeing Cullen.

Morrison said he and Shellington were convinced they had to "get out of there. We decided to take Mrs.Cullen out to the country somewhere and by the time she got back to the city, we would have gone or would have taken care of the $2,000 or hopefully she would have wandered off and got lost somewhere," he said in the confession.

She never did go anywhere. In the 90-minutedrive out Reisterstown Road to Route 30, Cullen struggled. When she realized the young men intended to leave her, both drew knives. She ran toward Shellington, and, according to the confession, into a butcher knife.

"We didn't stab her with the knife," Morrison told police. "She ran into it."

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