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Evidence collection questioned in double-murder trial

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

A double-murder trial, involving the 2006 shooting deaths of two Ellenwood men, is scheduled to continue today in Clayton County Superior Court.

Co-defendants Kevin Michael Brewington, 24, and Gary Hakeem Brown, 25, are accused of shooting to death Norris Degree and Stanley Brown on March 20, 2006, at the Cobblestone Flats Apartments, located at 2445 Rex Road, in Ellenwood.

A third co-defendant, Tyrone Vincent Brown, 27, was also scheduled to be tried this week, but his case was postponed after his attorney, Loletha Denise Hale, was held in contempt of court and jailed on Monday.

During testimony in the case Thursday, Clayton County Police Crime Scene Investigator Carl Cook took the stand for the prosecution. Cook testified that he collected and photographed evidence at the scene. Among the items collected were spent shell casings, a clear plastic bag with several small, red baggies inside of it, and a razor blade, Cook said on the stand.

He testified that such items at a crime scene usually indicate drug activity. When cross-examined by Katrina Breeding, the defense attorney for Gary Brown, Cook admitted that the bags were never tested for the presence of drugs.

Later, a photo of the crime scene, which appeared to show a blood stain on the stairs, was tendered into evidence. Defense Attorney Mawuli Mel Davis, who is representing Brewington, cross-examined Cook about the stain. Cook admitted to Davis that he did not mark the stain for collection of evidence, and the stain was not swabbed.

"Obviously, there are some concerns about the thoroughness of the investigation," Davis said, after the court recessed for the day on Thursday.

Clayton County Executive Assistant District Attorney Jason Green, who is prosecuting the case, could not be reached for comment by phone late Thursday.

Also during testimony Thursday, former U.S. Marshals Office Drug Task Force member, Alan Stapp, testified for the prosecution. Stapp said he participated in the search of the apartment where Brewington and Tyrone Brown lived, and were arrested, at the Cobblestone Flats Apartments, on March 23, 2006.

Stapp testified that members of the U.S. Marshals Office, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Clayton County Police Department were among those present. Stapp said, while searching the home, he noticed weapons hidden in a large vent inside the apartment.

"Without taking the vent off, I looked in and could see two rifles, and a bag," Stapp said. "There were packs of bullets just laying out everywhere," he added.

Stapp said an ATF agent obtained a warrant to further search the apartment. The ATF agent, who did not want to be identified in published reports, due to the nature of his job, testified that four handguns and two long rifles were found in the apartment.

Stapp testified that he did not find evidence of drugs in the apartment.

The prosecution is expected to continue presenting its case when the trial resumes today at 9 a.m.