Update: Joliet man found guilty of 2016 baseball bat murder

Blaique Morgan

A Joliet man was found guilty of the 2016 murder of a 62-year-old U.S. Army Veteran in Joliet Township.

On Monday, Will County Judge Vincent Cornelius found Blaique Morgan, 26, guilty of the first-degree murder of Robert Bielec under the accountability theory in Illinois law.

Bielec was found dead on Jan. 7, 2016, in the driveway of his residence in the 1700 block of Houston Avenue. Cornelius said Bielec’s head was “crushed to such an extent that brain matter was exposed.”

In Illinois, a defendant is legally accountable for a conduct of another person if they solicit, aid, abet or agree or attempt to aid the other person in the planning or commission of a crime.

Cornelius ruled the evidence did not establish Morgan as the principal actor who delivered the death blow to Bielec but there was still evidence to show Morgan was accountable for the actions of his brother, Amari Morgan, 24, in the incident that led to Bielec’s death.

Amari Morgan has also been charged with Bielec’s murder. His trial is set to begin March 13.

Amari Morgan, 21, of Joliet

In Cornelius’ ruling, he noted several factors to support Blaique Morgan’s accountability in Bielec’s murder.

Cornelius said Blaique Morgan was present at the scene of Bielec’s death, he fled from the scene of the crime, he failed to report it to police and he had a close affiliation Amari Morgan, whom he told detectives had struck Bielec with a baseball bat.

Cornelius said Blaique Morgan gave multiple versions of what happened to detectives and concealed evidence, which showed guilty knowledge.

Cornelius said the evidence showed Bielec was clutching his car keys and his hands were not in a defensive or fighting posture. Prosecutors said at trial the Morgan brothers had ambushed Bielec.

Cornelius said it was significant to him that when Amari Morgan and Robert Bielec were pushing each other during the confrontation, Blaique Morgan had intervened to restrain Bielec but not his brother.

Before delivering his verdict, Cornelius recounted the evidence presented at trial, in which there were no independent eyewitnesses to Bielec’s murder or surveillance video.

In the days leading up to Bielec’s death, the Morgan brothers’ residence, which is next to Bielec’s, was damaged by gunfire and the brothers suspected Bielec’s involvement, Cornelius said. In Blaique Morgan’s interview with police, he accused Bielec of creeping on his house and looking through his sister’s window.

Cornelius said Blaique Morgan at first denied his involvement in Bielec’s murder to detectives.

Then Blaique Morgan said he struck Bielec with a solid pipe after believing Bielec was reaching for a gun, Cornelius said. Then he said Amari Morgan struck Bielec with a baseball bat.

Cornelius said the baseball bat was never found and no fingerprint evidence was presented to suggest who wielded the bat.

Prosecutors had also said there were Post-It notes recovered by police at the scene that said, “Reap what you sow.” However, Cornelius said there was no fingerprint evidence or handwriting analysis presented at trial regarding those notes.

Bianca Rodriguez, Blaique Morgan’s ex-girlfriend, testified at the trial. She said Blaique Morgan told her that he killed Bielec, an allegation she did not tell detectives in 2016. At that time, she said Amari Morgan had struck Bielec.

Cornelius said he could not find credibility with Rodriguez’ claim that Blaique Morgan said he killed Bielec. He said Rodriguez did not tell that to a defense investigator who contacted her about her statements to police just weeks before the trial.

Rodriguez’ interview with detectives led to the discovery of two pairs of shoes from the Morgan brothers that a forensic scientist testified had Bielec’s blood on them.

Cornelius said there was a very small amount of blood found on Blaique Morgan’s shoes and an absence of blood on the clothing he wore in his interview with detectives.