Life recommended for Franklin murderer

Published 10:32 am Tuesday, March 13, 2012



COURTLAND—The jury that found Rasheed Brown of Franklin guilty of murder is recommending he serve life in prison plus 33 years.

Deliberating for two hours Monday, the Southampton County Circuit Court jury determined that Brown, 22, was involved with the kidnapping and shooting death of Darrin Lee, 28, on Oct. 7, 2010.

Brown was one of six charged with first-degree murder after Lee was kidnapped from Man Market and killed in an alleged robbery gone wrong at Southampton Meadows Mobile Home Park. Lee lived in the trailer park. Brown was pinned as the triggerman during testimony.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke commended the jury on its decision, which “sent a strong message” to the deceased’s loved ones and community.

“Now finish it,” said Cooke, who asked for the maximum sentence of life for the murder, and the upper limit of years for the other charges, including kidnapping and attempted robbery.

“Darrin Lee will never get to be a good father. Rasheed Brown snuffed him out,” he added. “Impose the maximum sentence.”

Attorney Michael J. Fasanaro Jr., representing Brown, asked the jury for compassion and to keep in mind how long Brown could serve the minimum sentencing — 36 years, which does not include five more for possession of a gun.

“Thirty-six years is a long, long time,” said Fasanaro.

During closing arguments, Cooke apologized to the jury for having to see the graphic images from Lee’s autopsy, but “they were necessary to make it clear that this case was not an abstraction.”

“It’s the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s position that Rasheed Brown is the triggerman,” Cooke said. “The theme does not vary. Rasheed Brown was in charge from start to finish.”

He added that the motive was “the lure of easy money. It has a very strong appeal.”

Brown’s attorney, Stephanie Pass, reminded the jury that they “must find beyond reasonable doubt” any guilt on Brown’s part.

While she praised investigators, the evidence didn’t appear strong enough to place Brown at the crime scene.

Further, the witnesses connecting the event to the defendant are questionable, especially Ernest Jones. A co-defendant, Jones testified that Brown did not participate in the kidnapping or the shooting.

“He is your reasonable doubt,” said Pass. “If you can’t decide which to believe, then Brown is innocent. His fate is in your hands. Do your duty and find him not guilty.”