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Cops: Body in alley is Duluth's second homicide this week

The body of Albert George Morrison of Duluth was found in the alley behind the Duluth YMCA on Wednesday night. Police are calling the incident a homicide, Duluth's second this week. [Robin Washington /]

Two men are being held on second degree murder and aggravated robbery charges in suspicion of killing a Duluth man in what would be the second homicide in Duluth in less than a week.

Albert George Morrison, 35, was found Wednesday night face down and not breathing in the alley behind the Duluth YMCA on the 300 block of West First Street. Police said an autopsy showed that he likely died due to trauma to the head.

His death follows the shooting of Curtis Cooney, 22, Sunday in the Central Hillside neighborhood.

Police said Morrison's pockets were pulled inside out and his socks and shoes were "some distance" away from him. Surveillance video taken at about 10:40 p.m. on Wednesday night from the Holiday Mall less than a block away showed Morrison leaving there with two men, Isaac Louis Johnson, 24, and Antonio Sinclair Lewis, 21. The video showed the men returning to the Holiday Mall about six minutes later without Johnson and then leaving with several others.

Police said they were able to identify the suspects through the video and executed a search warrant at three apartments Friday afternoon, two of those believed to be where Johnson and Lewis lived. While at the apartments, deputy chief John Beyer said police "came into contact with both" while executing the search warrant.

Morrison's Minnesota identification card and bus pass was found at one of the apartments, police said.

Formal charges against the two are expected to be filed early next week, said police Chief Gordon Ramsay.

Police said Morrison was believed to be living in an apartment downtown and that his family was notified Friday afternoon with details of the arrest.

His family told police that whoever robbed Morrison didn't have to hurt him.

"His family asked us to say that he was a good guy, and all they had to do was ask for the money," Ramsay said.

Johnson and Lewis both lived in Duluth, police said; they would not disclose where. That information will likely be released when the two are formally charged.

Johnson has a lengthy criminal record for convictions ranging from fleeing a peace officer in a stolen vehicle in 2005 in Hennepin County to theft of a vehicle in Dakota County in 2006 to third degree assault in St. Louis County in 2007, according to court records.

He was ordered to serve two years in prison for the crime.

Lewis was convicted earlier last month for a charge of "small amount of marijuana" in Hennepin County. He was also sentenced to one year of probation last year in St. Louis County for disorderly conduct.

Morrison also had a lengthy criminal record dating back to 1994 when he was convicted of second degree assault. Since then, he has pleaded guilty to fifth degree assault in 2008, fourth degree assault of a peace officer in 2008, and several minor offenses, including urinating in public, disorderly conduct and drinking in public.

Morrison was well known among the downtown's low-income and transient population, said Steve Hoemke, a staff member for CHUM, a shelter where Hoemke said Morrison sometimes stayed when he wasn't with his family.

"He was a nice man," Hoemke said. "We all liked him here. He was more like family here. Everybody knew Al."

Morrison was trying to pursue school, Hoemke said, but alcohol and mental health problems derailed his efforts.

When Morrison was sober, "he was a real nice guy," said his uncle, Joseph Blacketter, who lives in an apartment near the Kozy Bar. But Blacketter, who last saw his nephew three days ago, said Morrison was a heavy drinker.

"When he would get drunk he would talk real crazy," Blacketter said. "He was a great guy, but he had some demons."