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Jury still out in double-murder trial

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

After a full day of deliberating Tuesday, a Clayton County jury is scheduled to resume deliberations today in a double-murder trial involving the 2006 shooting deaths of two men.

In a case before Clayton County Superior Court Judge Matthew Simmons, Gary Hakeem Brown, 25, and Kevin Michael Brewington, 24, are accused of shooting to death Norris Degree and Stanley Brown on March 20, 2006, at the Cobblestone Flats Apartments, on Rex Road in Ellenwood.

A third co-defendant, Tyrone Vincent Brown, 27, will be tried later, according to prosecutors.

The jury received the case late Monday afternoon, after the state, and defense attorneys rested their cases, according to the district attorney's office.

"They [Norris Degree and Stanley Brown] were met there in the breezeway, probably ambushed, and they were brutally shot down," said Clayton County Executive Assistant District Attorney Jason Green, during closing arguments Monday.

Green is prosecuting the case along with Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Bill Dixon.

During the trial, the prosecution presented a witness, Shannon Dean, who told police that she saw the shooting. Dean named the three co-defendants as the perpetrators, according to testimony during the trial. However, defense attorneys argued that Dean's testimony was not credible. On cross examination, the lead detective in the case, Clayton County Police Det. Larry White, admitted that Dean gave him several different versions of the same story.

He said on the stand that, initially, Dean told police she did not see what happened, then later said she saw the shooting, and gave varying details in each account of what she allegedly saw.

"Mr. [Jason] Green and Mr. [Bill] Dixon did an excellent job of putting up what they had," said defense attorney Mawuli Davis, during closing arguments Monday. "The police are the problem. The investigation is the issue," said Davis, who is representing co-defendant Kevin Brewington.

"The initial suspect turns eyewitness, now how does that happen? And now she [Dean] becomes the eye witness," Davis argued before the jury.

During the trial, Detective White admitted that some evidence that should have been collected and tested in the case was not, and that investigators did not follow up on some information that should have been further investigated.

"The family of the deceased deserves better," Davis told the jury.

During the trial, Davis asked White about Shannon Dean's cousin, Jackie Howard, who allegedly told White that the murders were the result of a robbery gone bad. "She [Howard] told you the three perpetrators had been staying in the apartment with Shannon Dean?" Davis asked.

"Correct," White responded.

White testified that he checked the names, histories and photographs of the three men who lived with Dean, but took no action beyond that.

Later in the trial, prosecutors argued that ballistics tests proved that Gary Brown and Kevin Brewington participated in the murders.

The prosecution called to the stand Francis Jarvis, a state crime lab firearms scientist. Earlier testimony had revealed that two rifles and four handguns were discovered in the Cobblestone Flats apartment unit where Brewington and Tyrone Brown lived, and were arrested.

Jarvis said ballistics tests showed that bullets fired during the murders were fired from guns that were submitted to him in the case. However, he said two of the guns were improperly sealed, according to crime lab standards.

Davis told the jury that there was no evidence that his client, Kevin Brewington, knew that the guns were hidden in the apartment. Gary Brown's attorney, Katrina Breeding, made the same argument regarding her client.

Tyrone Brown had been scheduled to go on trial last week with the other two, but his trial was postponed after his attorney, Loletha Denise Hale, was held in contempt of court and jailed by the judge, after coming to court and saying she was not prepared to try the case.