Suspect allegedly lied under oath

Published 10:36 am Wednesday, May 23, 2012

COURTLAND—A Portsmouth man who allegedly lied under oath during a murder trial is once again facing life in prison now that his second-degree murder plea has been taken off the table.

Ernest Jones, 23, on July 5 will be arraigned in Southampton County Circuit Court on first-degree murder charges and perjury after he allegedly lied on the stand while testifying against a co-conspirator for the October 2010 murder of Darrin Lee, 28, of Southampton County.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke accepted Jones’ second-degree murder plea in exchange for his testimony against co-defendants, including Rasheed Brown, 22, and Shahon Cumbo, 23, both of Franklin. Jones faced a 13- to 23-year sentence.

Jones identified Brown as Lee’s shooter and implicated Shahon Cumbo, 23, during Cumbo’s February trial, but then changed his testimony during Brown’s trial in March, according to a motion filed by Cooke.

Cumbo, who was convicted, is asking for a new trial, according to Cooke’s motion.

“We are at a marked disadvantage because of his conduct,” he said.

Jones’ Attorney David Bouchard said his client had “a change of heart” during the Brown trial and told the truth, adding that 22 years in prison was a stiff enough punishment for Jones, who “was not the shooter and was merely present.”

A jury convicted Brown, who will be sentenced in circuit court at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 29. He faces life.

Lee was kidnapped from Man Market in Franklin and driven to his home at Southampton Meadows trailer park, where he was shot in the head. The alleged motive was robbery.

Bruce Boone, 19, of Suffolk pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and faces eight to 18 years in prison. Quadrick Ashburn, 21 of Franklin has a jury trial at 9:30 a.m. Monday, June 11, and Darrien Robinson, 22, of Suffolk, will have a trial on July 16. Both are charged with first-degree murder.