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Morton pleads not guilty to first set of grand jury indictments

More charges expected for suspect in 15 commercial burglaries
News Editor
   The Madras man accused of committing a string of 15 burglaries over a four-month period was indicted by a grand jury last week on several charges with more expected to come.
   Christopher Morton, 19, pleaded not guilty Thursday to five counts of second-degree burglary, one count of first-degree criminal mischief, two counts of second-degree criminal mischief and two counts of first-degree theft delivered as an indictment from the grand jury.
   Eighteen witnesses testified before the grand jury last Wednesday but the proceedings were postponed until a later date due to the enormity of the case.
   The unemployed Madras resident is scheduled to appear in Jefferson County Circuit Court on Jan. 31 for a status hearing. He remains lodged at the Jefferson County Jail on $75,000 bail.
   District Attorney Peter Deuel said it could take several weeks for the grand jury to review additional testimony and consider evidence that allegedly links Morton to the 14 businesses and a school he is accused of breaking into.
   Morton was arrested on Jan. 10 when police seized evidence from his residence at 339 S.W. H St., apartment A, that they believe connects him to the following burglaries since Sept. 20: Columbia River Bank, Pennzoil 10-minute Oil Center, Black Bear Restaurant, Juniper Custom Framing & Gallery, Golden City Restaurant, Mike & JAC's Gas, Great Earth Natural Foods, Flaherty's 99 Cent Store, Burgerworks, Westside Elementary, Busy Bee, H&R Block, Dr. Hiskey's office, Space Age Fuel and Granny's Kitchen.
   After finding bulk cutters, pry bars, rolled coins, clothing and other items in the apartment Morton shares with a roommate, police initially arrested on the following charges: 14 counts of second-degree burglary, 11 counts of second-degree criminal mischief, two counts of first-degree criminal mischief, four counts of first-degree theft, seven counts of second-degree theft, one count of second-degree arson and possession of a schedule II controlled substance.
   -- Troy Foster