Hannibal man gets probation in Chelsea armed robbery

Adam Morrall
Posted: Sep. 13, 2013 10:00 pm Updated: Sep. 27, 2013 11:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

A Hannibal, Mo., man who helped rob a Quincy adult store earlier this year avoided prison Friday.

Adam E. Morrall, 20, was sentenced to 36 months of probation and 360 days in the Adams County Jail by Judge Scott Walden. Morrall pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery July 1. He could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections as part of the plea agreement.

Walden said he opted against sending Morrall to prison because of Morrall's age and his lack of previous criminal history. Morrall was on unsupervised probation from a 2011 possession of cannabis case in Missouri.

Morrall was one of two men arrested in connection with an armed robbery that happened March 4 at the Chelsea, an adult theater and video store at 4804 Gardner Expressway. First Assistant State's Attorney Gary Farha said Morrall and James M. Meredith, 20, of Ewing, Mo., displayed what appeared to be a handgun and demanded money from the cashier. Farha said Morrall and Meredith made off with $1,100 in cash. Morrall told investigators that they used a black BB gun that looked like a handgun to commit the crime.

Farha asked Walden to send Morrall to prison eight years.

"They laid hands on (the cashier) and threatened her," he said. "They told her it wasn't a joke. She went through an ordeal."

Farha said Meredith had asked Morrall to help him with the robbery.

"He could have called Crime Stoppers and told them of Meredith's plan," Farha said. "He could have said no, that he wasn't going to go along with it, but he committed this crime. ... There needs to be a significant sentence that deters others. Society looks at robbery, and in this case aggravated robbery, as a serious offense and is something that needs to be dealt with."

The Probation Department did not recommend probation because of the seriousness of the charges.

Morrall's attorney, Public Defender Todd Nelson, said that his client deserved a chance at probation despite the seriousness of the offense. He said Morrall plans to go back to college while addressing mental health and substance abuse issues.

Morrall had several family members attending Friday's sentencing. He wept at times during the half-hour hearing.

"I'm sorry for what I have done," he said. "I understand that it was very serious. If I could, I would apologize personally to the victim and to the Chelsea. I would like to move forward with my life."

Walden went over the crime and what led up to it before handing out his sentence. He said Morrall and Meredith originally planned to hold up the Hy-Vee gas station at 14th and Harrison. Walden said Morrall knew that Meredith had held up the business before. The gas station was the scene of an armed robbery Feb. 2. No arrests have been made in that incident.

Walden said the pair opted against robbing the Hy-Vee and decided to make the Chelsea their target. The judge said Morrall and Meredith went to Oklahoma after the robbery to visit friends and watch a basketball game.

"It is hard to exaggerate the seriousness of the crime you committed," Walden said. "As far as (the cashier) knew, the guns were real."

An arrest warrant has been issued for Meredith. He currently is in the Nodaway County Jail in Maryville, Mo., where he is facing robbery and armed criminal action charges in connection with a March 10 incident at a Dollar General Store in Maryville. He is set to have a jury trial in December.

Morrall has been lodged in the Adams County Jail since his arrest. He was given credit for 179 days and had the rest of the jail time stayed. He must pay restitution.

He was released from jail Friday.