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Guilty of first-degree murder of store clerk

Montago Suggs

Montago Suggs

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Updated: December 2, 2013 3:32PM

Montego Suggs was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday night, about five hours after jurors began deliberating and more than six years after he killed 22-year-old Melinda “Mindy” Morrell of Round Lake Park during a 2007 robbery.

Suggs was found guilty of all of the murder counts against him in the trial — murder with intent to kill, while knowing his actions had a strong possibility of causing great bodily harm and while committing armed robbery.

After the verdict was reached at about 10 p.m., and announced in court, Morrell’s family members hugged and cried outside of the Lake County Courtroom where the trial was held. It was not the first tears they had shed during the weeklong trial.

“I’m glad it’s finally over,” said Morrell’s mother, Sheryl Morrell, who had testified briefly earlier in the day. “I’ll never have closure. I will always miss her.”

Morrell said that Mindy, a former Spartan cheerleader in Round Lake, wanted to go into a career in sports medicine, and also spent time teaching her nieces, some of whom attended the trial, cheerleading skills.

Suggs shot Mindy Morrell in the back of the head during a May 21, 2007, robbery of the former Waukegan Check ’n Go store on Green Bay Road. Authorities said about $2,000 was taken in the incident.

The case has dragged on for years with Suggs remaining in custody of Lake County Jail.

During the trial this week, jurors saw clips of a multi-day interrogation in which Suggs admitted to killing Morell, but claimed it was an accident, and admitted to a second robbery attempt that led to his arrest and ultimate conviction.

Five days after Morrell’s murder, investigators were led to Suggs after an incident at the Ma & Pa’s Corner Store, 37737 N. Green Bay Road, Beach Park, during a robbery in which he also allegedly forced the store clerk to the ground behind the register, pointed a gun at his head and pulled the trigger.

This time the gun didn’t have a bullet in the chamber, and Suggs looked at the gun in surprise and fled, according to the clerk, who testified during the trial.

Suggs dropped the gun in the parking lot of the store, and was arrested after fleeing to Wisconsin. Ballistic tests matched the gun to the slug that killed Morrell.

A hearing on post-trial hearings is scheduled Nov. 12. A sentencing date before Judge Daniel Shanes will follow.

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