Madison HeightsMarch 19, 2014
Four suspects charged in carwash beating
By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer
MADISON HEIGHTS — Police believe they have wrapped up a case from last year in which three men allegedly brutally assaulted unsuspecting twin brothers at a car wash. They also now have charges lined up against a fourth suspect, believed to be the ringleader who orchestrated the violent attack.
The original incident occurred early last year, around 11 p.m. Feb. 15, 2013. An off-duty Madison Heights police officer chanced upon what appeared to be a suspicious vehicle with its lights on, parked in a dark alley of a Walgreens at 11 Mile and John R, and he decided to investigate. That’s when he observed an attack in progress at the neighboring Super Six Car Wash in the 26000 block of John R.
Three men surrounded the two victims — twin brothers from Rochester Hills, age 35 at the time — in a self-serve car wash stall, and appeared to be hitting them with some sort of object. The officer called fellow police. The suspects turned and fled, hopping a wall to the north that separates the Super Six Car Wash from the Walgreens.
It turned out the vehicle sitting in the alley with its lights on was the getaway vehicle. The officer relayed a description of the suspect vehicle, including license plate information, to police dispatch. Police reinforcements and firefighters/paramedics arrived at the car wash in short order.
Both of the victims had been hit multiple times with baseball bats and were delivered to Royal Oak Beaumont for treatment of their wounds. The victims, who are now OK, described the suspects at the time as a trio of white men in hooded sweatshirts, all in their early 20s.
One of the suspects didn’t get in the vehicle. He visited neighboring houses, claiming he had been jumped and he needed to make a phone call. The owner of the first home he visited called 911 for him, which caused him to flee. At the second home, he made his call to arrange for transportation.
This individual was Jason Eric Morgan, 29, of Clinton Township, arraigned by Magistrate James Paterson in Madison Heights 43rd District Court Feb. 21. He was charged with two counts of armed robbery, punishable by up to life in prison, and two counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, less than murder, punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a $5,000 fine. He was being held on $1.5 million cash or surety bond and has since pleaded no contest to the charges against him. At press time, he was due for sentencing this month.
“The fact he’s pleading no contest to such substantial charges shows what an airtight case this is,” said Madison Heights Police Lt. Robert Anderson.
Another suspect was also caught last year: Shawn Patrick Nesbitt, 28, of Clinton Township, was found when police located the suspect vehicle. He was arraigned by Magistrate Kimberly Wilson in Madison Heights 43rd District Court Feb. 19. He faced the same charges and bond as Jason Morgan, was found guilty last November, and was sentenced in January — 18 months to 20 years in prison. The armed robbery charge against him was dropped since he took a plea deal, pleading guilty to the two counts of assault for bodily harm less than murder.
The third suspect in the beating is Joseph Lucent, 30, of Macomb Township — only recently charged since he wouldn’t talk until police were able to use Nesbitt’s testimony against him.
Lucent was arraigned in Madison Heights 43rd District Court on Feb. 14, 2014 — nearly one year to the day of the crime — on one count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, less than murder, and also one count of assault with intent to murder, punishable by up to life in prison.
The reason for the “intent to murder” charge is that Lucent allegeldy inflicted severe head trauma on one of the victims. There is no robbery charge against him since it’s not believed he took any money, unlike the other two who allegeldy stole a wallet from the victims. Lucent’s bond was set at $1,250,000, and his pretrial is set for April 1.
While a wallet was stolen during the original incident, it seemed unclear why the twin brothers had been targeted. Since then, police have pieced together what they believe really happened. The answer lies in a fourth suspect who wasn’t present during the beating, but who allegedly set the sequence of events into motion.
Heather Morgan, 29, of Roseville, is charged with two counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, less than murder. She also is charged with accessory after the fact to a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison or $10,000. Her bond was set at $10,000 and she has also her pretrial set for April 1.
She is the sister of Jason Morgan and was dating Lucent at the time. Police say she arranged for the three men to stake out the home of her ex-boyfriend in Hazel Park, whom she believes cheated her out of tax returns, and to teach him a lesson.
Police say the three men mistook the twin brothers for the intended target, figuring the ex-boyfriend was one of them, when in reality the twin brothers were siblings of Heather Morgan’s ex. When the twins got in their vehicle and took off, the trio of suspects reportedly tailed them to the car wash.
Police say Heather Morgan is also the contact person Jason Morgan called when he walked around the neighborhood trying to arrange for a getaway driver.
Anderson said credit should be given to Thomas Kenyon, a Madison Heights police detective at the time, who continued to work on the case after his promotion to sergeant, and who solved the case despite leaving the detective bureau. Kenyon even checked cell phone tower records to get a bearing on the movement of the suspects as they went to the address of the home in Hazel Park that was provided by Heather Morgan, and waited outside the home until someone came out.
Anderson said he is pleased to see all four suspects have been brought to justice, including the woman who allegedly orchestrated the plot.
“She (Heather Morgan) was the one who put this whole crime in motion, so we’re pleased she’s being charged with it, even though she wasn’t directly there,” Anderson said. “Pretty much everyone responsible in this very violent crime is going to pay the piper. The victims did nothing to deserve this.”