Jury quickly acquits murder defendant
Editor's Note: The original version of this article contained the name of a witness.
For three days, jurors in an Upper Marlboro courthouse heard testimony and arguments in a case in which a Hyattsville man named David N. Brown was charged with first-degree murder and 22 other counts in connection with a home invasion slaying in an apartment in Lake Arbor.
It took the jury just 37 minutes Wednesday to acquit Brown of all 23 counts.
Brown, 37, wept and hugged his defense attorney, Peter S. Fayne, as the verdict was read, Fayne said.
"What happened in this case was a terrible tragedy, compounded by the fact the state charged the wrong man," Fayne said.
Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for State's Attorney Glenn Ivey, said, "Unfortunately, the jury saw fit to acquit Brown. We put on a good case under difficult circumstances."
Before the trial began Monday, Brown had rejected plea offers from the state, insisting he was innocent, Fayne said.
Brown was accused of first-degree murder, robbery with a deadly weapon, burglary and other offenses for the Sept. 18, 2007 killing of Leonard C. Hopkins, 32.
Hopkins died of multiple stab wounds in his apartment in the 11400 block of Lake Arbor Way, according to court documents.
According to poilce charging documents, the morning of the murder, at least four men forced their way into the apartment Hopkins shared with his girlfriend.
Hopkins' girlfriend was assaulted with a stun gun or a Taser, had her feet and hands bound, and was put into a bedroom closet, according to police charging documents.
The attackers asked the woman where Hopkins was and when he would be home, according to the charging documents. Police believe the men were there to rob Hopkins of drugs and cash.
Hopkins' girlfriend heard the suspects ransacking the apartment, then heard them fighting with Hopkins and demanding money, the charging documents said. After she heard the attackers leave, she freed herself and found Hopkins lying near the front of the apartment. Paramedics arrived and pronounced him dead.
Police retrieved images from a surveillance camera in the lobby of the apartment building. The images showed two men walking through the lobby, following Hopkins' girlfriend, the charging documents state.
The woman identified Clyde Peterson, 40, as one of the men in the photo, the charging documents state. Last month, Peterson pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to four years in prison. The state dropped the other 24 counts Peterson was facing.
Another witness identified Brown as the man seen walking with Peterson, the charging documents allege.
Hopkins' girlfriend testified during the trial that the attacker the state alleged was Brown was at least 6 feet tall and weighed at least 300 pounds and spoke with a Jamaican accent, Fayne said.
Fayne said Brown is 5-feet-10, weighs about 260 pounds, and does not speak with a Jamaican accent. Brown did not testify.
No one else has been arrested in connection with the slaying. According to police charging documents, informants identified Brown, Peterson, and three other men as the culprits. One of those identified, Benjamin Perry, was convicted in 2008 of a separate mruder in Forestville.
-- Ruben Castaneda
(This post has been updated.)
| July 28, 2010; 4:18 PM ET
Categories: From the Courthouse, Homicide, Pr. George's, Ruben Castaneda | Tags: Prince George's County crime
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