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Ex-stockbroker gets life without parole in 2006 killing of DJ

A former stockbroker was sentenced to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for the 2006 shooting death of a popular Denver radio host whose body was found floating in the Pacific Ocean off Santa Catalina Island, prosecutors said Monday.

Harvey Morrow, 60, received life without parole plus 25 years Friday after being convicted by a jury Nov. 9 of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of murder for financial gain. The victim, Steven Bailey Williams, was a drive-time disc jockey in the 1980s on a popular Denver radio show, "Steven B and the Hawk."

Williams was handling his deceased father's estate when he met Morrow, who introduced himself as an investment banker from New York who knew his father, a decorated Air Force pilot who flew combat and spy missions in World War II and the Vietnam War, said sheriff's Sgt. Ken Clark.

Morrow offered to help Williams by taking the inheritance, including a stock portfolio belonging to his dead father, and putting it in an off-shore account in the British Virgin Islands. In all, Williams gave Morrow about $1.8 million to invest on behalf of the estate.

But Morrow used a large chunk of money from Williams' estate to refurbish a yacht, including outfitting it with a fireplace, a teak deck and $100,000 worth of electronics.

Los Angeles sheriff's homicide investigators determined Morrow deposited the money from Williams' estate into a bank in the British Virgin Islands. He then would regularly withdraw the money in small increments from the offshore account and place it under his name in a U.S. bank.

Williams initially believed Morrow's spending habits resulted from his success in the banking world. In addition, the two had planned to sail the world and had lived together in residences in Corona del Mar and Morrow's yacht in San Pedro.

But Williams, who supported himself through voice-over work, grew suspicious about Morrow's activities after a close personal friend began to ask about his inheritance and why he didn't have accesss to his money, Clark said.

Williams told friends he planned to confront Morrow about the money. On April 27, he told the friend he was going to take the yacht out to Catalina Island and have a "come to Jesus meeting" with Morrow. Williams promised that the next time he saw his friend, he would have all of his money.

The last person to see Williams alive was a boat owner at the marina on May 4, 2006. Through painstaking work, including examing phone records, bank accounts and data from a crucial GPS device, sheriff's investigators were able to determine that Morrow and Williams sailed to the back side of Catalina Island, where they motored around slowly for several hours.

Then, around 1 a.m. on May 4, records show the boat returned to San Pedro, where it docked. Morrow drove with friends from San Pedro to Bishop for a fishing trip, which he tried to use as his alibi.

But those same friends testified Morrow looked desheveled and slept the entire ride. That proved crucial because it was clear from the GPS and phone records that he had arrived at the dock at 6 a.m. on May 4 and drove to Bishop.

When friends asked about Williams' whereabouts in the days after the slaying, Morrow told one that Williams had moved to Hawaii. The next day, Morrow told another friend he had gone to Mexico. The friends doubted the stories and contacted sheriff's deputies.

When friends learned that a body had been discovered off Catalina Island from an article in the L.A. Times, they called authorities to report Williams was missing.

By then, Morrow had disappeared. But he resurfaced in Great Falls, Mont., where he had taken a job at a car dealership. He told a coworker that his wife had died in a boating accident in the Gulf of Mexico and that the ocean so repulsed him that he moved far away to Big Sky Country to start over.

The coworker, a former police officer, was curious enough about Morrow's story that he went online for details about the death. An Internet story posted by a Denver news station described Morrow as a "person of extreme interest" in the Williams slaying.

The coworker then contacted a friend at the Cascade County Sheriff's Department and a week later, Montana and Los Angeles County sheriff's homicide investigators took Morrow into custody at the dealership.

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-- Andrew Blankstein
twitter.com/anblanx

 
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