MOBILE, Alabama (WKRG) – A man accused of beating another man to death in what may have been a racially motivated crime is expected to return to court on Tuesday. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Morgan Barnhill. We can learn more about the state’s case against him.

Etienne Murray, 25, was beaten to death. Morgan Barnhill, 27, was arrested and charged with murder on April 2 after allegedly hitting Murray on the head with a shovel on March 29. Murray died on April 1.

A prosecutor told a judge during the hearing that the murder was motivated by Barnhill’s belief that the victim had stolen something from him, adding that they believed race was another factor in the crime. Barnhill is white, the victim is black.

A prosecutor testified that Barnhill beat Murray with a shovel and pipe and left his body there for hours before calling police. Police say Barnhill initially claimed to have stopped the burglary, but the state says his story has unraveled and claims he eventually confessed to police.

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