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State to retry murder defendants after mistrial

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Prosecutors say they plan to retry two men in a double-murder case in which a mistrial was declared Wednesday, due to a hung jury.

After about 12 hours of deliberation that began late Monday, jurors returned a mixed verdict Wednesday in the trial of Kevin Michael Brewington, 24, and Gary Hakeem Brown, 25, according to Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson.

The two -- along with a third man, who was not being tried with his co-defendants -- 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.

"We know the jury tried very hard to reach a unanimous verdict, and we respect them for their long hours of deliberation, and we will retry the defendants," Lawson said.

The third co-defendant, Tyrone Vincent Brown, 27, was scheduled to be tried along with Brewington and Gary Brown. However, his trial was postponed when his attorney, Loletha Denise Hale, was held in contempt of court and jailed, after she told the judge that she was not prepared to try the case.

Lawson said the state plans to try the three co-defendants together in the re-trial. Defense attorney Mawuli Davis, who represented Kevin Brewington, said he looks forward to having the case heard again.

"These young men have been incarcerated for nearly four years, and we'd like to get the case tried as soon as possible," said Davis. "I think the jurors really did try hard. I think they struggled with some of the way the investigation was handled. Obviously, from the evidence in the case, there's a lot of contradictory information," he said.

"I think the way the police have handled this raised some questions," said Davis. "I think we always have to, as a society, be mindful of what we accept as evidence before we convict someone of a crime as serious as this," he added.

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 Detective Larry White, admitted that Dean gave him several different versions of her story.

Defense Attorney Katrina Breeding said she also plans to represent her client, Gary Brown, when the case is re-tried. "I think it [mistrial] indicates that we did a very good job of presenting the evidence," said Breeding. "This was a very intelligent jury. It was clear that they examined the evidence, and just didn't rely on counsel. There were conflicts in the evidence and the arguments of the state," she said.

Clayton County Executive Assistant District Attorney Jason Green, who prosecuted the case, could not be reached for comment following the mistrial on Wednesday. District Attorney Lawson said she estimated the case might be retried some time in March.