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Suspect denied bond in student murder case

Larnell Sillah, from left, Achiel Morgan and Romaine Stewart

Larnell Sillah, from left, Achiel Morgan and Romaine Stewart

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Paul Sampleton/Facebook

LAWRENCEVILLE — Stating that Achiel Morgan, 15, was “a danger to the community,” a superior court judge Monday morning denied him bond.

As one of three juveniles named as suspects in a Dec. 19 robbery and homicide, Morgan was represented by Attorney Latana Anthony, who asked that the young man be granted bond because, among other reasons, he had no prior convictions.

Judge Debra Turner did not agree. She made the decision after nearly an hour listening to Anthony and the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Jimmie Baggett.

“When someone has not yet attained what we would consider the age of an adult, and their first venture into the criminal foray is an armed robbery, which leads to the murder of another juvenile, that’s a pretty significant risk to the community,” Baggett said.

Morgan and two others, Larnell Sillah, 15, and Romaine Stewart, 18, were also detained in the case. Stewart and Morgan were charged with armed robbery, while Sillah was charged with murder.

Grayson High School freshman Paul Sampleton Jr. was discovered by his father, Paul Sampleton Sr. on Dec. 19. He found the boy bound and shot to death at his mother’s Haynescrest Drive townhouse following a half-day of school.

All three suspects also attended Grayson High School. According to Gwinnett County Det. Andrew Whaley, all three teens have confessed in separate interviews that, two days prior to Sampleton’s death, they spent a morning bus ride discussing the robbery.

The trio all lived in Hawthorn Farms, less than half a mile from the townhouse where Sampleton lived with his mother.

During the bond hearing Monday morning, Sgt. Cleo Atwater with the Gwinnett County Police Department, spoke regarding the homicide and armed robbery investigation.

He said that Morgan admitted to being “involved in the planning (of the armed robbery). He told me he had a specific assignment.”

Atwater said Morgan’s assignment was to follow Sampleton home and get his address “and relay that information back to Stewart and Sillah.”

Atwater said that in interviewing Stewart and Sillah, he learned that the initial plan was for “Morgan and Stewart to meet or locate Paul (Sampleton) at his front door, jump him, take him into the location by force, and Larnell would run in and grab objects, while Morgan and Stewart held him down.”

Items that were allegedly taken from the residence included high-end headphones, three TVs, a gaming system, some clothes and eight pair of sneakers.

In further interviews, Atwater said, Stewart “admitted to the fact that there would be some disguises involved, masks, and Larnell would get a gun so they would have a weapon to commit this robbery.”

He added that Morgan was not present, however, during alleged conversation between the suspects.

Atwater also said there was no physical evidence linking Morgan to the scene of the crime, other than “Morgan’s admission to me that he was involved with this through conversations and planning to rob Paul Sampleton at his house.”