SHELBYVILLE, IL. — The prosecution continued its case Wednesday in the trial of Wayne Newlin of Herrick in the shooting death of Jeremy Morgan in December. The trial is being held in Effingham County due to construction at the Shelby County Courthouse.
Newlin is charged with three counts of First Degree Murder – Accountability. Michael Pease of Pana is currently serving 45 years after pleading guilty in the case in July.
Heather Thomas, who shared the home with Newlin and Morgan, was the first witness called by Shelby County State’s Attorney Deborah Riley on Wednesday morning.
Thomas admitted that she was in a relationship with Morgan, but it was kept quiet due to the fact that Morgan was still married but separated. She also noted that she and Newlin were just friends. She also noted that Morgan had never beat her or abused her. She had dated Michael Pease briefly when she moved to the Pana area. In describing Pease after his release from prison on previous charges, Thomas said Pease “wasn’t happy. He was completely different.”
After presenting testimony from two Illinois State Police investigators, Riley presented several hours of video recording of the interrogation of Newlin by ISP investigators at the Pana Police Department. Newlin was located at his place of business, PBI in Pana, where he retreated after he attempted to return home and found law enforcement swarming the area.
The interrogation began late the night of December 29, the night of the murder, and ended late afternoon December 30 when he was taken into custody.
After being read his Miranda rights and agreeing to the taping of the interrogation, Newlin rambled on about working on his tractor, the guns he owned, and the living arrangements at the trailer. Throughout the questioning, interrogators asked Newlin if he knew what had happened to Morgan. Newlin said he did not.
During the lengthy interrogation, the investigators were receiving incoming information about the murder. After hours of questioning, the investigators told Newlin that Pease had told them everything and pressed Newlin for the truth.
Newlin admitted that he was “disgusted with Jeremy Morgan.” Newlin said he was tired of paying for everything, and said that Morgan had “busted me upside the head” and was “bullying me”.
“We got into fist fights over every little thing. I asked him to move out before,” Newlin said. “I was tired of it.”
He then talked to Pease about getting rid of Morgan and a plan was created.
“I could have stopped it, but I didn’t,” Newlin said.
The defense is expected to present its case Thursday.