UPDATE 11:15 AM: We’re learning more about what the state says led up to the fatal beating of Etienne Murray that took his life in early April. A Mobile Police detective testified that Morgan Barnhill had befriended the victim two weeks before the attack and hired him for odd jobs at his home. During that time Barnhill suspected Murray stole his girlfriend’s ring and computer and told him not to come back.

The detective said Barnhill used his girlfriend’s cellphone to invite Murray over for BBQ via text message but actually wanted to confront him over the supposed thefts. He said when Murray arrived, Barnhill talked and then eventually came up from behind and hit him on the head with a shovel. The detective says Barnhill told him he went into a blackout from anger and beat him with a pipe, board, branch, and anything he could find.

The detective says Murray came over to Barnhill’s home on March 28 and the police were called in the early morning hours of March 29. Murray was taken for treatment at University Hospital and died on April 1. The detective says the victim never regained consciousness after the attack and never spoke to police.

Two to three hours after the beating, the detective says Barnhill finally called the police and claimed he stopped someone from breaking into his shed and tied Murray up. Barnhill eventually admitted to police the burglary story was a lie.

The detective says a witness at the party said he saw Barnhill after the attack saying “I messed up, I hit E” and that he hates thieves. The detective also testified that a relative of Murray’s messaged Barnhill on Facebook after the attack and his account sent back the response “yeah I killed your son, the other two didn’t have anything to do with it.”

Last month, the state suggested that race may have been a factor in the killing. The testimony did not shed much light on that allegation Tuesday. A detective testified that one of the friends at the party heard Barnhill drop a racial slur after the attack and yelled about how he hated thieves.

The judge denied a motion to reduce Barnhill’s bond of $500,000. The defense argued an amount that high with an indigent client is the equivalent of having no bond and is improper in a case where the defendant does not have major criminal history. The case was sent to the grand jury.

ORIGINAL STORY: MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The man accused of beating another man to death in what may have been a racially motivated crime is expected back in court Tuesday. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Morgan Barnhill. We may learn more about the state’s case against him.

 25-year-old Etienne Murray was beaten to death. Morgan Barnhill, 27, was arrested and charged with murder on April 2nd after allegedly striking Murray on the head with a shovel on March 29. Murray died on April 1st.

A prosecutor told a judge during a bond hearing that the killing was motivated by Barnhill’s belief that the victim stole something from him, adding that they believe race is another factor in the crime. Barnhill is white, the victim is black.

A prosecutor testified Barnhill beat Murray with a shovel and pipe and left his body there for hours before calling the police. Police say Barnhill initially claimed he stopped a burglary but the state says his story unraveled and claims he eventually confessed to police.