Man serving life sentence may be innocent

St Petersburg, Florida -- It was the night of June 10, 1993 when two unidentified men robbed Felicia Fuller in her St. Petersburg home.

Fuller, who was a convicted drug dealer, was also the daughter of a St. Petersburg Police officer. She accused the men of attempting to rape her before one of them shot her several times, including in the butt. Thankfully, the injuries were non-life threatening.

More than a week later, Fuller would identify 18-year-old Michael Morgan as one of the men who committed the crime. It was Fuller's testimony which ultimately persuaded the jury to convict Morgan who was then sentenced to life in prison.

Michael Morgan, who was a known juvenile delinquent with a record, was already facing 15 years in prison after an armed robbery conviction which he admitted to.

"I had nothing to go on — I can't say I was a model citizen and never got into trouble before, I can't say that," Morgan tells 10 Investigates.

He says after being sentenced to 15 years in prison, he vowed to his family he was going to turn his life around.

Morgan says he shouldn't be serving a life sentence for the crime that happened on June 10, 1993 at Fuller's home.

"It's harder when you are in here for a crime you didn't commit," Morgan said. "When you have a criminal past, I was always told the cards are stacked against you."

Morgan was arrested 12 days after the June 10 crime, when Fuller saw him riding his bike past her house.

"This lady pulled up in a Mercedes and says hey that looks like the 'MF' who robbed me, and she almost hit me with her car," Morgan recalled.

After Fuller shouted to Morgan on his bike, he said he ran to a neighbor's backyard and asked the man to call his mother. Then, Morgan did what most guilty people wouldn't do: He asked the neighbor to call the police.

When the officer arrived on scene, both Fuller and Morgan provided statements.

Morgan recalls what was said to the officer that day, "She said, 'he was the one who broke into my house and shot me'—and I'm like, 'No, you've got the wrong dude!'"

While these words are often echoed by prisoners, in Morgan's case, he has many supporters, including Keith Bentley who served on the jury that convicted Morgan.

Bentley said he doesn't believe Morgan is guilty, "Knowing that there is somebody who is in prison, and he is in prison because of a decision that I was a party to -- that is hard to bear."

He said the jury never knew Felicia Fuller was brought to the court to testify against Morgan from the Florida State Prison where she was serving time after a drug dealing conviction. The jury also didn't know Morgan did not even match the initial description Fuller gave to police. There was also no DNA or physical evidence of any kind, the jury voted guilty only because of Fuller's testimony that Morgan was the man.

Bentley recalls the time he served as a juror and explained, "We weren't given the facts, we weren't given all that information…we had a broken puzzle," he said.

So broken that Morgan went to trial on these charges two times before. The first trial resulted in a hung jury and the second was overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct.

Morgan also had an alibi for the night of June 10, 1993, but the jury never knew that either. Melody Walker, who was Morgan's girlfriend at the time, says she was never called to testify for the defense. She says Morgan was with her that night at the time of the crime and says he even called his mother from her house.

Vel Thompson is Morgan's mother and tells 10 Investigates she remembers getting the phone call that night. Thompson recalls she could hear Walker's baby in the background crying and they had caller ID at the time to verify where Morgan was calling from.

While Walker wasn't called to testify, Marva Davis, who drove the getaway car that night, did take the stand.

The defense asked her, under oath, if either men she drove away from Felicia Fuller's house that night of June 10, 1993 were in the courtroom at the moment. Davis looked right passed Morgan sitting there and said she did not see either of the men in the courtroom.

READ: Marva Davis statement

The other man convicted of the robbery, Gerald Wright, even wrote two detailed letters to Morgan's mother, Vel Thompson while in prison serving his sentence for the crime committed June 10, 1993.

Thompson shared the letters with us and read:

"Michael didn't have anything to do with this, l didn't even know Michael, I didn't know you're son, he had nothing to do with it."

St Petersburg Police Detective Ron Noodwang also documented an interview he conducted with Wright, in which Wright told the same story to detectives handling the case.

READ: St. Pete Police Detective Ron Noodwang Interview (pdf)

In a sworn statement given to St. Petersburg Detective Mike Celona, Wright said he didn't know Morgan and even under oath, Wright said that Morgan wasn't involved.

The only evidence is the victim saying he did it," Thompson said, "There is no DNA, there is no fingerprints, there is no hair fibers, nothing -- and the co-defendant didn't know my son."

However, out of the blue, Wright recanted his statements he made as the co-defendant.

"Michael had an opportunity to plead out in this case and he said no," Thompson explained, "He said, 'these charges are horrendous and I don't want my child or children to grow up thinking I'm some type of sexual pervert.'"

Morgan's attorney advised him to take the deal, because he would have been able to serve his time concurrently with armed robbery charges he had already been convicted of. In other words, if Morgan admitted guilt, he would not have received any more prison time than he was already facing and would have been out years ago,

Back at the prison, we asked Morgan why he didn't take the plea deal.

"I said, 'Man, I'm going to trial [because] If I did this — I'm going to take the deal and run — but no, I'm not going to that,'" Morgan said, "If I have to sit here and die in prison, so be it -- I wasn't going to take that."


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