Infant murder trial set for March
Published 9:06 pm Saturday, November 7, 2015
The trial date for a Brookhaven man charged with capital murder in the death of a 13-month-old child has been set for March 8.
During a status hearing Monday, Jamaal Brown was scheduled for an omnibus hearing Jan. 4 and trial March 8 in Lincoln County Circuit Court.
Brown, 30, of 1205 Broken Lane, was indicted Sept. 3, 2014, on a charge of capital murder of 13-month-old Preston Reynolds, also known as Preston Jude Heath, on Jan. 23, 2014. The indictment alleges that the child was struck on the head or another form of abuse that would cause serious bodily harm, resulting in his death. An autopsy report showed Reynolds had a fractured skull and contusions to the face.
Brown entered a plea of not guilty at his capital murder bond hearing on Sept. 11, 2014, and bail was set at $100,000.
At the bond hearing, District Attorney Dee Bates gave a limited presentation of the autopsy report that showed the toddler had multiple fractures to the skull and contusions to the head and face. The report stated that the medical examiner ruled the death as a homicide. The full report was not allowed at the hearing, but the partial report was permitted to show the severity of the charge.
In arguing for bond to be set, Brown’s attorney, Matthew Kitchens, said during the hearing that his client has support from many community members, law enforcement officers and the fire department and that generations of his family are from Lincoln County, showing that he has strong ties to area. Kitchens added that Brown has no prior criminal record and came to Lincoln County voluntarily when asked to appear by law enforcement officials.
Judge Michael Taylor took Brown’s community ties and voluntary arrival into consideration when setting the bail at $100,000 with a 10 percent post, instead of the full 100 percent given in capital crimes.
Kitchens said Brown was the one who brought the child to the hospital after the injury in January and stayed with him there until the 13-month-old died. He added that Brown gave a detailed report to the police department and brought officers to the home where an incident occurred.
Bates added to the information that according to the report, Brown was the only person in the bathroom with the child when the incident occurred.
Brown is a registered nurse, having received his degree from Southwest Mississippi Community College. He is from Lincoln County but moved to New Mexico for a nursing job.
In early October, Brown’s counsel was changed from Matthew W. Kitchens and his firm, Kitchens Law Firm, P.A., to Thomas M. Fortner of the Lowrey and Fortner, P.A. law firm.
Bates said that if the accused is found guilty, there are a variety of sentences that could be handed down, including the death penalty, life in prison with or without parole or a combination of sentences. He added that everyone is innocent until proven guilty by a jury of their peers.