When Brian Morgan peered through the thick window from the inmate room known as “the bubble” and into the Los Angeles Superior Court Wednesday, he flashed a big smile and waved eagerly with both hands. His mother, along with a half dozen family members, had patiently been waiting all day for the quick glimpse of her son.
There was little sign in his demeanor of the enormity of the crimes Morgan faces. He’s accused of the attempted murder of two Santa Monica neighbors – both alleged victims are still recovering in the hospital. He’s facing three counts of first-degree residential robbery, assault with a deadly weapon – a hammer – and first-degree burglary among others. After hours of waiting to see the judge, Morgan’s arraignment was postponed until Tuesday to give his public defender more time to review his case. This is not the first time Morgan has been through the system – in 2012 he was convicted of assault with a firearm.
Police say fingerprints link Morgan and a second suspect – a 17-year-old who has not been identified because he is a juvenile – to two break-ins in the NOMA neighborhood that sent three people to the hospital. Police say the young men broke into Andrew West’s house around 3:00 p.m. on 17th Street May 15. West was home at the time and ended up in the hospital with serious injuries after multiple men attacked him. When officers got to the home, they say it was ransacked so badly it was hard to tell at first whether anything had been stolen.
Less than ten days later, police believe Morgan and the 17-year-old struck again, this time allegedly stabbing Imtiaz Tar in his home on 19th street. Imtiaz’s wife and son were also home at the time and tried to intervene, according to details outlined in the District Attorney’s Criminal Complaint. The DA alleges Morgan attacked the Tar family’s housekeeper, Dinah Barrera, with a hammer. She also was sent to the hospital but has since been released.
The 17-year-old suspect was arraigned Thursday In Inglewood Juvenile Court on charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery and mayhem, according to the DA’s office. Police say he was running away from the Tar’s home when the first officers arrived on the scene. The suspect barricaded himself in the rear yard of a nearby home but was eventually arrested with the assistance of a K-9 and SWAT officers.
Morgan was arrested in the alleged get away car by the El Monte Police Department after officers added the license plate to a law enforcement database. The two men had taken some cash and a cell phone from the house, according to Lt. Saul Rodriguez with the SMPD. Police do not have any evidence the victims and the suspects knew each other.
No bail has been set in Morgan’s case, but the DA is recommending the judge set it at $1.32 million when he is arraigned next week.