No-parole life term upheld for cornfield killer

August 19, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold refused yesterday to give Abras Q. Morrison any chance for parole, saying that Morrison could have been an asset to society if he hadn't kidnapped and killed a 74-year-old North Baltimore woman two summers ago.

"You're an articulate, intelligent young man," the judge told the 21-year-old Baltimore County man during a 10-minute hearing, at which the judge declined to change the life-without-parole sentence he gave Morrison in October. "It's tragic now that all of that will be wasted."

Morrison was convicted by a Carroll jury last year of stabbing Margaret Cullen, whose beaten, stabbed and decaying body was found in a makeshift grave in a Hampstead cornfield in 1991.

His accomplice, Troy D. Shellington, pleaded guilty last September to first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence in state prison.

"Mrs. Cullen had earned the right to live a quiet life for the last years of her life on this earth," the judge said as Morrison stood before him. "The pain, suffering and violent death she suffered have been buried with her."

Morrison was a nurse's aide for Mrs. Cullen during the summer of 1991.

In statements he made to Baltimore homicide detectives after his arrest, he said that he and Shellington never meant to kill Mrs. Cullen. Morrison claimed that Mrs. Cullen "ran into" the knife that ultimately killed her.

At a hearing June 15, Morrison asked Judge Arnold to give him "some hope" by reducing his sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole. If that were done, Morrison would have been eligible for release from the Maryland Penitentiary in about 20 years, court records say.

Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman -- who vigorously opposed Morrison's request in June -- said yesterday he is pleased with Judge Arnold's decision.

"He [Morrison] is very typical of the sort of young killer you see today," the prosecutor said after the hearing. "He's not only callous but remorseless."

Morrison's attorney, Carroll Public Defender Barbara Kreinar, declined to comment on the judge's ruling.

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