A district judge denied a man’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea in a murder case on Thursday, so he will face his sentencing in January for the 2013 killing of a 75-year-old woman in her home.
Bayzle Morgan, 28, appeared in court with his face covered in neo-Nazi tattoos. He pleaded guilty in April 2018 to a first-degree murder charge for fatally shooting Jean Main in the head during an attempted burglary at her home in the northwest valley.
Morgan also pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon and robbery with a deadly weapon.
His attorneys argued at the Thursday hearing that Morgan and his defense team had not been aware of developments regarding DNA evidence against him when he entered his guilty plea in the murder case.
“We don’t live in a ‘gotcha’ legislation scenario where if an individual enters a plea, then that’s it, that they have to go forward for sentencing,” defense attorney Dayvid Figler said.
This is Morgan’s second motion to withdraw the plea. In the first, his attorneys cited the change of judge presiding over sentencing as the reason for wanting to withdraw it.
Figler argued after the first motion was filed in November 2018 that Morgan took a plea deal from the district attorney’s office because he believed he would be sentenced by District Judge Eric Johnson. The case later was assigned to Judge Michelle Leavitt, who took over all of Johnson’s murder cases.
On Thursday, Figler argued that Morgan had always maintained “a degree of innocence or lack of culpability” in the killing, and would like his case to go to trial despite the fact that it would put the possibility of receiving the death penalty back on the table.
But Chief Deputy District Attorney Giancarlo Pesci said that neither Morgan nor his defense team expressed concerns about the DNA evidence or the plea deal until Leavitt was assigned to the case. He also said he had not been aware that Morgan had ever insisted on his innocence.
“I don’t understand what that is. He stood in the courtroom, and he said he shot this woman in the head,” Pesci said. “The canvas is before you. It’s crystal clear.”
Leavitt denied Morgan’s motion.
Morgan made headlines in 2016 when his neo-Nazi tattoos were covered with makeup during a 2016 robbery trial in a separate case. A swastika within a clover is tattooed under Morgan’s left eye, the words “Most Wanted” are scrawled across his forehead, “Baby Nazi” is tattooed on his neck, and two white supremacist tattoos are where his eyebrows should be.
Jurors convicted Morgan in the robbery trial, and he is serving a sentence of about three to nine years at High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs.
Leavitt will hand down Morgan’s sentence for the first-degree murder charge on Jan. 9.