Home News Local news Attorneys Spar Over Bail for First-Degree Murder Suspect

Attorneys Spar Over Bail for First-Degree Murder Suspect


Jan. 4, 2008 — Superior Court Judge Michael C. Dunston heard arguments from attorneys Thursday during arraignment proceedings for Jahmil "Beans" Brown on the legality of his being free on bond pending charges of first-degree murder.
Dunston, who released Brown to house arrest on Dec. 28, told the attorneys that he would study case law regarding detention of first-degree murder suspects and issue a written decision as to whether the conditions of Brown's release would remain in effect.
Brown, a 19-year-old resident of No. 3 Estate Lovelund, pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, possession of a dangerous weapon during the commission of a violent crime, and voluntary manslaughter. The case was assigned to Judge Leon Kendall, who will set the trial date.
Brown was released to the custody of his mother after she signed a $150,000 unsecured bond. He must wear an electronic ankle device, may not leave his home for any reason other than court appearances and must call his probation officer daily. Brown is charged with the stabbing death of fellow Charlotte Amalie High School student, Kadeem Leonard, 19, following a dance at Coral World early Christmas morning.
Brown confessed to the stabbing, but claims he grabbed the knife away from Leonard and used it in self-defense. What's unclear is who brought the knife into Coral World, where security personnel screened all guests for weapons, lighters and contraband before they were allowed into the event, according to Detective Jason Marsh of the Major Crimes Unit. Marsh is handling the investigation and was also working security at Coral World the night of the crime, although he said he did not screen Brown.
Marsh testified that three witnesses saw the stabbing and gave statements saying Brown had the knife, not Leonard. The witnesses said Leonard punched Brown, and Brown retaliated by stabbing him once in the chest. The knife has not been recovered.
Brown's public defender, Robert A. Leycock, argued in favor of maintaining Brown's house arrest based on the Bail Reform Act which, he said, seeks to measure a defendant's flight risk and threat to the community.
Leycock pointed out that Brown, a native St. Thomian with extended family here, has deep ties to the community and turned himself into police three hours after the stabbing, proving that he is not a flight risk. Additionally, Leycock told the judge that since his client has no criminal record and was not the instigator of the altercation, he is not a threat to the community.
"Based on the detective's investigation, it appears Mr. Leonard was the aggressor," said Leycock. "There's no justification that Mr. Brown should be held in pre-trial detention."
Asst. Attorney General Brenda Scales countered by saying Brown's quick response to Leonard's punch, reported to be 2 to 3 seconds, shows "premeditation and malice aforethought.
"He's a young man," Scales said. "If he thinks stabbing someone to death is reasonable self-defense to a punch, then he is a danger to the community. The defendant was essentially laying in wait. Nobody saw the (victim) with that knife."
According to Marsh, Brown and Leonard had been involved in at least two previous physical altercations as a result of a feud over a girl.
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