Joliet man sentenced to 27 years in prison for 2016 baseball bat murder

Blaique Morgan says ‘I’m sorry’ to family of slain U.S. Army veteran

Blaique Morgan

A Will County judge said a Joliet man could’ve been a better “bigger brother” after he sentenced the man to 27 years for his role in the 2016 murder of a 62-year-old U.S. Army veteran who was beaten to death with a baseball bat.

There are no winners in this case.”

—  Will County Judge Vincent Cornelius

Blaique Morgan, 26, was fighting back tears as he apologized for “what happened” to Robert Bielec, 62, who was beaten so severely with a baseball bat outside his home in Joliet Township that his brain matter was exposed.

“I never intended anything bad to happen to Bob,” said Morgan, who insisted that he never touched or grabbed Bielec during the attack.

Last year, Will County Judge Vincent Cornelius found Morgan guilty of participating in Bielec’s murder under the legal theory of accountability in Illinois. Cornelius ruled that although Morgan did not deliver the death blow, he still was responsible for the crime.

Morgan pointed to the fact that he was 19 at the time of the incident, but Cornelius said he was older than his brother, Amari Morgan, 25, who’s scheduled to go to trial on charges of killing Bielec on Sept. 11. Amari Morgan was 18 at the time of the slaying.

Cornelius said Blaique Morgan could’ve been a better “bigger brother” in a situation during which both men had been angry at Bielec. Blaique Morgan had told police that Bielec, a next-door neighbor, had creeped on his house and looked through his sister’s window.

“There are no winners in this case,” Cornelius said.

Vincent F. Cornelius speaks Sunday to a congregation at Mount Zion Baptist Church during the congregation's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Service Joliet.

Cornelius said he still had questions about what would’ve happened if the Morgan brothers’ mother had called the police instead of her sons, or if Blaique Morgan had decided to meet with Bielec during the day instead of late at night.

Although Blaique Morgan’s attorneys asked for the minimum sentence of 20 years, Cornelius rejected that because of Blaique Morgan’s attempts to conceal evidence of Bielec’s murder.

“Those are signification considerations for this court,” Cornelius said.

Bielec’s sister, Kay Ventura, said her brother was a senior citizen and an “honorable veteran” who loved children even though he had none of his own.

“Bob would go above and beyond to help anyone,” Ventura said.

Ventura said that as a result of her brother’s death, she and her family will never talk to him, hug him, cook for him or do anything else with him ever again. She said his brutal murder changed the lives of her family forever.

“Now you will reap what you sow,” Ventura said of Blaique Morgan.

During trial, prosecutors had said there were Post-It notes recovered at the scene in the homicide investigation that said “Refap what you sow.”

Amari Morgan

Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Alyson Wozniak told Cornelius that Bielec was ambushed by the Morgan brothers in his driveway late at night while he still had the keys to his vehicle in his hands. She said Bielec had no “fighting chance” against the much taller and bigger Morgan brothers.

“There was no opportunity for him to defend himself,” Wozniak said.

Blaique Morgan’s attorney, Gabriel Guzman, said his client was not the “principal actor” responsible for Bielec’s murder, and he did not physically attack him, although he apparently grabbed him for reasons that remain unclear.

Guzman said Blaique Morgan comes from a church-going family, has no gang ties and has spent his time in jail improving himself, such as taking a Bible study class. He also said he had three jobs before his arrest in the Bielec case.

“He was a productive individual, even at the age of 19,” Guzman said.

Blaique Morgan, who was in his jail uniform, stood up to deliver a statement of his own. He apologized to Bielec’s family, saying he “never meant for any of this to happen,” and that he felt terrible.

After several deep breaths and a visible struggle to hold back tears, Blaique Morgan said he knew Bielec since he was a child and that he used to go to his house to have him fix his bicycle or pump air into his basketball.

Blaique Morgan said he was not in “close proximity” to Bielec and never touched or grabbed him.

“I’m sorry,” he said, before turning to look at Bielec’s family in the courtroom. “I’m sorry for Bob.”

“I was young. I never had the chance,” he said.