Castle Hayne man pleads guilty to second degree murder in 2015 stabbing

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Adam Allen Morton
Adam Allen Morton

CASTLE HAYNE – A Castle Hayne man Thursday pleaded guilty to the second degree murder and armed robbery of 37-year-old William “Will” Elliot in February 2015, according to the office of District Attorney Ben David.

Adam Allen Morton, 24, was originally charged with first degree murder and assault by strangulation when he was arrested in March 2016. He will serve a minimum of 30 years in the North Carolina Department of Corrections, with a maximum sentence of 38 years.

According to a release from the district attorney’s office, the Wilmington Police Department were called to the scene of a domestic disturbance at the Quality Inn on Market Street late on the night of Feb. 28, 2015. When officers arrived, 34-year-old Jamie Cooper of Wilmington said Morton had assaulted her but fled the scene. During the investigation, Cooper’s brother called police dispatch to report that she had told him someone had been stabbed and robbed at her trailer home at 130 Gale Road, near the intersection of Kerr Avenue and Gordon Road.

New Hanover County Sheriff’s deputies responded to that scene and found a man, identified as Elliot, dead inside the trailer home. The official autopsy report said he died from multiple stab wounds.

Over the course of the investigation, detectives found out that Morton, Elliot and Cooper had purchased and smoked crack cocaine together at Cooper’s residence on Feb. 27, the day before the domestic disturbance incident was reported. Cooper said she witnessed Morton stabbing Elliot at 8 a.m. the next day, but went back to her bedroom. Morton then came into the bedroom with Elliot’s keys and $740 in cash and told Cooper he could now pay rent.

Morton and Cooper then left the residence in separate vehicles — Morton in Elliot’s truck and Cooper in her own. Morton parked Elliot’s truck near the boat ramp by the Isabel Holmes Bridge and took the tag off it before the pair went off to buy more crack. The truck was found by detectives days after Elliot’s body was found.

Investigators also found a bloody shoe imprint left in the kitchen of the Gale Road home where the stabbing took place and matched it to a shoe impression left on top of a vehicle that Morton used to help himself jump over a fence next to the Quality Inn.

After law enforcement was unable to catch Morton, his family offered to help and lured him to the parking lot of the Burger King located in the 1900 block of 17th Street. When Morton arrived and saw the police, he tried to escape, but was taken into custody after a foot chase with a canine officer. After he was treated for minor bite wounds, he was taken to the New Hanover County Jail and held without bond.

Cooper was also arrested and indicted with accessory after the fact. Her next scheduled court date is Oct. 10.