A 30-year-old Bluffton man was sentenced to 15 years in prison Monday for burglary, cashing stolen checks and resisting arrest, according to a news release today from the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office.
Just before jury selection for his trial, Preston Morse pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary, two counts of forgery and two counts of resisting arrest. There was no negotiated plea deal, the release said.
On Sept. 17, Morse broke into a home on Buck Island Road and stole a rifle after his girlfriend allegedly lured the resident to Savannah. On Oct. 12, Morse cashed a check stolen from a Bluffton family at Region's Bank on Hilton Head Island. He was trying to cash a check stolen from his former employer at the Bank of America in Bluffton on Nov. 9, when bank employees called police, the release said.
While being placed under arrest, Morse assaulted two Bluffton police officers, breaking one officer's finger. He had to be subdued with a stun gun.
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Investigators received information that Morse was involved in the burglary after he was in custody on the forgery and resisting arrest charges. He confessed to the burglary and stated that he was addicted to prescription pills, the release said.
Morse has prior convictions for three counts of criminal domestic violence and one count each of aggravated assault, failure to stop for blue lights, fleeing to evade arrest and petit larceny.
"Although he may blame addiction for his actions, the fact of the matter is that Mr. Morse is a dangerous opportunist, who is quick to become quite violent," said assistant solicitor Ben Shelton, the case's prosecutor. "Most people with addictions don't commit crimes. Some addicts commit crimes to support their habits. Mr. Morse is a career criminal who happens to have an addiction. The community and law enforcement are much safer with him in prison."
The case against his girlfriend is pending, the release said.
Judge Carmen Mullen handed down Monday's sentence. By law, Morse must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before being eligible for release.