SHELBYVILLE, IL. — The first day of the murder trial of a Herrick man concluded with testimony from the one who pulled the trigger.
Wayne Newlin of Herrick has been charged with three counts of First Degree Murder – Accountability in connection with the shooting death of Jeremy Morgan of rural Herrick in December 2011.
The “accountability” part of the charge means that Newlin is legally responsible for the conduct of another. In this case, Newlin is charged with the action of Michael Pease, who is serving time for the murder.
The trial is being held in Effingham County at the request of Circuit Judge Michael Kiley due to construction work at the Shelby County courthouse.
The prosecution presented testimony from several witnesses Tuesday, concluding with the shackled Pease taking the stand.
Pease is currently serving a 45-year sentence in Statesville Prison after pleading guilty to the murder in July.
Pease said that Newlin approached him in late December about “getting rid of Jeremy Morgan”.
“He (Newlin) said he would owe me really badly if I would help him get rid of Jeremy Morgan,” Pease said. He testified that Newlin talked about being frustrated with Morgan.
Newlin, Morgan, and Heather Thomas lived together in the same trailer located in rural Herrick. For a number of years, Newlin was step-father to Morgan. According to earlier testimony by Jason Morgan, Newlin continued to be a father figure to Morgan even after he and the Morgans’ mother divorced.
According to Pease’s testimony, Newlin began talking about “getting rid” of Morgan about December 22. Newlin told Pease that Morgan was beating Thomas. Pease said he had known Thomas in past years, having a short relationship with her.
“I don’t like that. I considered Heather a ‘sister’ and my mother considers her a ‘step-daughter’,” Pease said. He added that hearing that he was beating her upset him because his mother was a battered by several men she was with.