Brown was not there during Lee’s murder, witness says

Published 10:28 am Friday, March 9, 2012

COURTLAND—A witness testified Thursday that Franklin murder suspect Rasheed Brown was not at Southampton Meadows Mobile Home Park the night Darrin Lee was shot to death.

However, another witness placed Brown, 22, at the scene on Oct. 7, 2010, and an inmate testified that Brown confessed to shooting Lee.

Testifying for the prosecution on the third day of Brown’s trial in Southampton County Circuit Court, Ernest Jones Jr., 23, of Portsmouth said he and four co-defendants — all charged with first-degree murder for Lee’s death — dropped off Brown at a home in Franklin before Lee, 28, was abducted from Man Market on South Street in Franklin. Lee was then taken to the trailer park where he lived and shot in an alleged botched robbery attempt.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke reminded Jones he was under oath.

Jones, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for providing truthful testimony against his co-defendants, also testified he wasn’t there when Lee was shot.

“I made a mistake and out of anger I had put him (Brown) into it,” Jones told the court.

Inmate Elwin Hines Jr. told jurors that Brown confessed to the shooting while the two were housed at Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk. Hines testified that Brown had been planning to rob Lee for some time and that it was supposed to go smoothly.

When Lee wouldn’t follow orders outside his home and a car pulled up, Hines testified that Brown told him, he had to “bust him in the dome” with a gun.

Hines, who is serving seven years on drug charges, told the jury he did not get a deal from the prosecution.

A one-time murder suspect in the case, Dayquan Eley, 19, of Suffolk, who had ridden to the trailer park with the co-defendants and was present at the time of the shooting, testified he saw Brown with a gun and force Lee out of his car in the trailer park.

Brown’s attorney Michael Fasanaro told the jury that Eley had told police the night he was arrested that Brown was not at the trailer park and Shahon Cumbo, 23, of Franklin was the shooter. Cumbo last month was found guilty of first-degree murder and faces 36 years in prison

Eley testified he was scared after he was arrested and lied because he wanted to “get out of there and go home.”

Cooke argued that Eley was closer to Brown than Cumbo; Eley has known Brown for 15 years. Cooke implied that’s why Eley left Brown out of the initial statement to police. Cooke noted that Eley also was close friends with co-defendants Bruce Boone, 19, of Suffolk and Darrin Robinson, 22, of Suffolk and left them out of the statement as well.

Eley on Feb. 8 recanted his statement and implicated Brown. All the charges against him were dropped.

The trial is expected to continue Friday.