By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Two Atmore men remained in the Escambia County (Fla.) Jail early Tuesday, arrested a day apart by Escambia County (Fla.) authorities on warrants issued for crimes that each allegedly committed several months ago.
Paul Ray Morris, 42, was jailed August 21 for criminal acts he is alleged to have performed in March and April of this year; Lionel Todd Blackburn, 46, was arrested a day earlier for a trio of criminal infractions that occurred nearly two years ago.
According to ECSO reports, the first of the string of offenses credited to Morris occurred on March 7, when witnesses reported that he cut the catalytic converter from a Cadillac that did not belong to him.
Sheriff’s reports show that Morris caused $1,500 damage to the vehicle, which was parked in the victim’s yard on Pine Forest Road in Pensacola, while stealing the converter, which was valued at $1,000. The victim and another witness reportedly identified Morris out of 13 individuals shown in a photo lineup, and warrants were obtained for his arrest.
On April 17, Morris — who had yet to be arrested — was charged with theft of another vehicle after he and another person asked the victim if they could use the vehicle to jump-start another vehicle, then never returned the borrowed vehicle. A warrant was obtained against him then for grand theft – auto.
On August 21, a deputy spotted Morris standing in the yard of a Still Road residence. The deputy pulled into the yard and saw the suspect “take off in a hurry” across an open field.
Reports show the ECSO officer chased Morris on foot for approximately half a mile before losing him in a wooded area. During the chase, Morris stopped long enough to shed his boots and a bandana. The bandana was later recovered, and a “homemade crack pipe made from a vehicle taillight bulb and pen with burnt residue (was found) rolled up inside it.”
Later, after several people called to report a suspicious person in the area, Morris was found on a couch inside the residence at which he had initially been spotted, and he was taken into custody.
Morris is being held under total bonds of $21,000 on one count each of burglary of a vehicle, larceny, felony grand theft of a motor vehicle from a person of age 65 or older, felony criminal mischief, possession of drug equipment and resisting arrest.
Walnut Hill trespass
ECSO arrest reports show that a Walnut Hill resident reported on September 11, 2019, that an unknown male, later identified from surveillance video and still photos as Blackburn, had trespassed onto the porch of his Nokomis Road residence.
The intruder stole an air conditioning breaker, pulled two drainpipes from their housing and broke several items on and around the porch and at the victim’s nearby hunting lodge. Blackburn was apparently searching for copper and other metals that could be converted to cash at a scrap yard.
An individual who later viewed a photo lineup further identified Blackburn as the culprit, and a warrant was obtained for his arrest. On August 20 an ECSO deputy spotted Blackburn on North Pace Boulevard in Pensacola and placed him under arrest.
Blackburn is being held under total bonds of $6,500 on one count each of burglary, larceny and criminal mischief.