Murder trial begins Monday

Published 12:11 pm Saturday, June 22, 2013

COURTLAND—A Portsmouth man accused of the first-degree murder of a Franklin man is scheduled for trial in Southampton County Circuit Court. The trial is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. Monday, June 24.

Ernest W. Jones Jr., at his arraignment on May 30, pleaded not guilty to killing Darrin Lee outside his home in Southampton Meadows Mobile Home Park on Oct. 7, 2010.

Jones is among six people charged with the killing. Others facing charges were Rasheed Brown, 22, of Franklin; Darrin Robinson, 21, of Suffolk; and Shahon Cumbo, 22, of Franklin. Charges against Dayquan Eley, 19, of Suffolk were dismissed. Brown has already been found guilty in the crime and sentenced to life in prison in July 2012.

During Brown’s trial, Jones testified he dropped off Brown at a home in Franklin before Lee, 28, was abducted from Man Market. Lee was then taken to the trailer park and shot in an alleged botched robbery attempt.

Jones, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for providing truthful testimony against his codefendants, also testified during Brown’s trial that he wasn’t there when Lee was shot. But Brown allegedly lied under oath during his trial and will once again be facing life in prison now that his second-degree murder plea has been taken off the table.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke accepted Jones’ second-degree murder plea in exchange for his testimony against codefendants, including Brown and Cumbo, both of Franklin.

Jones identified Brown as Lee’s shooter and implicated Cumbo, during Cumbo’s February trial, but then changed his testimony during Brown’s trial in March 2012, according to a motion filed by Cooke.