Thanksgiving Day shooter sentenced to 20 years in prison

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Ted Sullivan
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
— Samuel Morrow apologized Monday to the two people he shot Thanksgiving Day.

“I made bad choices,” he said. “There is nothing I can do to repay them for what happened.”

Morrow, 25, Janesville, was sentenced in Rock County Court to 20 years in prison and 10 years extended supervision for two charges of first-degree reckless injury by use of a dangerous weapon and one charge of first-degree recklessly endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon.

Judge Kenneth Forbeck sentenced Morrow to five years more prison time than attorneys on both sides recommended in the plea agreement.

Forbeck said the sentence was needed to make sure people know that solving problems with guns is inexcusable. He said carrying a concealed gun is dangerous when people become emotional or panic then fire for no reason.

“These are the typical cases that should not have happened,” Forbeck said. “If you didn’t have a gun, this would have been a fight.”

Forbeck also exceeded a plea agreement in April when he sentenced James Humphrey to 45 years in prison for fatally shooting Sam Aegerter after a dispute at Five Points intersection. The plea agreement asked for a 20-year prison sentence.

Morrow pleaded guilty to shooting Eileen Chan, 21, and Robert Bowman, 28, during a Thanksgiving gathering at 407 S. High St., Janesville. Two charges of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and six charges of endangering safety were dismissed in the plea agreement.

Morrow went to the High Street home with John Tek, who began fighting with Bowman, who was dating Tek’s ex-wife, witnesses said at the preliminary hearing. Morrow began waving a gun and was kicked out of the home.

Morrow then fired seven shots through the door into a crowded room, officials said.

Forbeck said Morrow went to a home with children present, armed with a 9 mm handgun and three magazines with 24 cartridges. He said Bowman and Chan nearly died after getting shot.

Bowman had several surgeries, Forbeck said, and Chan is partially blind and has had difficulty speaking.

“The big question is, ‘Why did this happen?’” Forbeck asked.

Robert Morrow, Samuel’s brother, testified that a single mother raised Samuel, his four brothers and his sister. He said Samuel worked as a teen to help support his family financially.

Samuel never had anger issues, he said.

“I just want to say, ‘I love you, Sam,’” Robert said before stepping off the witness stand.

Rachel Morrow, Samuel’s sister, said Samuel was a good student and studied hard. She said Samuel was generous with friends and family. She said he had a child of his own and helped raise his girlfriend’s two children.

“I just want to say that my brother made a mistake, more than most can make in a lifetime,” Rachel said. “Despite what he has done, he is a good person, and I love you so much, Sam.”

Assistant District Attorney Kate Buker said Samuel had no criminal record and led a good life up until the shooting.

“There is nothing in his background that would explain this type of conduct,” she said. “Somewhere Samuel Morrow went astray.”

Defense attorney Walter Isaacson said Samuel was a good father.

“He provided the children with love and affection that he never got from his dad,” he said.

Samuel said he wants to be productive when he is released from prison.

“I just want to apologize to everyone that’s involved, my family and the community,” he said.

Last updated: 5:43 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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