Courtland man cleared in murder

Published 11:39 am Monday, June 11, 2012

COURTLAND—Murder charges were dropped Monday against a Courtland man who was facing life in prison.

Commonwealth Attorney Eric Cooke told a Southampton County Circuit judge he didn’t have enough evidence to convict Quadrick Ashburn, 21. Ashburn was one of six charged with in the shooting death of Darrin Lee, 28, on Oct. 7, 2010, after he was kidnapped from Man Market in Franklin and killed in an alleged robbery gone wrong outside his home in Southampton Meadows Mobile Home Park.

Cooke planned to use co-defendant Ernest Jones, 23, Portsmouth as a key witness against Ashburn, who’s jury trial was scheduled to begin Monday. Jones has since been accused of perjury for allegedly lying during another co-defendant’s trial.

“The quality and quantity of evidence has changed primarily because of the perjury of Ernest Jones,” Cooke told the court.

Jones had previously made a deal for a reduced sentence in exchange for testimony in other cases. He implicated co-defendant Rasheed Brown, 23, of Franklin in a murder trial for Shahon Cumbo, 23, of Franklin, and then attempted to alibi him during Brown’s trial, Cooke said.

Ashburn’s attorney Patrick Bales said his client would be released from Western Tidewater Regional Jail today.

Bales said Ashburn was asked to testify during the Cumbo trial, but declined on the advice of his attorney because he didn’t have time to review the information before the trial.

“He just wants to put this behind him and get back to some semblance of a normal life,” Bales said.

A jury in March recommended life in prison plus 33 years for Brown. Brown’s sentencing is July 24.

A hearing is scheduled for Cumbo, who is expected to ask for a new trial because of Jones’ changed in testimony.

Bruce Boone, 19, of Suffolk in September admitted to second-degree murder and faces eight to 18 years in prison.

Darrien Robinson, 22, of Suffolk will have a trial on July 16.