Date set for trial in child’s death
After numerous postponements and rescheduled trials, a Brookhaven man accused in the death of toddler in 2014 is set to go before Circuit Judge Michael Taylor June 12.
Jamaal Brown was charged with the capital murder of Preston Reynolds, also known as Preston Jude Heath, who was injured Jan. 23, 2014. Brown was indicted Sept. 3, 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 the baby had a fractured skull and contusions to the face.
Brown, a registered nurse, entered a plea of not guilty at his capital murder bond hearing on Sept. 11, 2014, and bail was set at $100,000.
Taylor took into consideration Brown’s strong ties, since his family had lived in Brookhaven for generations, and support from members of the community as well as his voluntary appearance before law enforcement, and allowed bail to be set with a 10 percent post, rather than the full 100 percent normally given in capital crimes.
At the hearing, District Attorney Dee Bates gave a limited presentation of the autopsy report in order to show the severity of the charge. Bates said the report showed the toddler had multiple fractures to the skull and contusions to the head and face. The report stated that Brown was the only person in the bathroom with the child when the incident occurred, and that the medical examiner ruled the death as a homicide.
Matthew Kitchens, Brown’s attorney, said Brown was the one who brought the child to the hospital after the injury and stayed with him there until the boy died. He added that Brown gave a detailed report to the police department and brought officers to the home where an incident occurred.
Taylor set the bail with the stipulation that Brown must be ready at all times to be present in court, he is not allowed to have any contact with the victim’s family and he may not leave the state, as well as other normal terms and conditions.
Brown changed attorneys from Kitchens to Thomas Fortner, and a continuance was granted. Brown’s trial date was rescheduled and continued on a number of occasions. The trial was reset for Jan. 17 after Fortner claimed the defense had been unable to obtain the services of an expert witness in the field of forensic pathology until recently.
The state has acknowledged it will not seek the death penalty, however, the alternative minimum sentence for a conviction is life without possibility of parole.
Other cases on the Lincoln County docket for Taylor’s court includes:
• Laterrica A. Henyard, conspiracy, introducing a controlled substance into a jail – trial set for June 20.
•Elijah Kelly, touching, handling — trial set for June 20.
• John Paul Dunaway, touching, handling — trial set for June 20.
• Cordarryl Lamond Bell, first degree murder — trial continued to June 20.
Cases on the Lincoln County docket for Circuit Judge David Strong include:
• Jeremy Wayne Cupstid, second degree murder — trial set for May 9.
• Marcus D. Smith, four counts of aggravated assault, shooting into a motor vehicle — trial set for May 9.
• Rahsad J. Smith, aggravated domestic violence — trial set for May 9.
• Jaymon D. Nunnery, sexual battery — trial set for May 9.
• Joshua Lee Holifield, touching/handling a child for lustful purposes, sexual battery — trial set for May 9.
• Helen Jean Mercier, embezzlement — trial set for May 9.