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Murder trial set to begin Monday in Lincoln County Circuit Court

After several delays, a capital murder trial for a registered nurse accused of killing a toddler in 2014 is set to begin Monday.

Jamaal Brown is set to stand trial for the murder of a 13-month-old child. His trial is at 9 a.m. in Lincoln County Circuit Court with Judge Michael Taylor presiding, according to the court docket released from Taylor’s office.

On Jan. 23, 2014, Preston Jude Heath, also known as Preston Reynolds, died while in Brown’s care. When Brown was indicted by a Lincoln County grand jury, he was charged with capital murder. Brown was 30 at the time of the arrest.

The indictment stated that Heath was struck on the head in an abusive manner that caused serious bodily harm, resulting in his death. An autopsy revealed that the child’s skull was fractured and he had suffered contusions to the face. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

On the day of the alleged abuse, Brown himself took Heath to the hospital and stayed with him there until the child was pronounced dead. Brown gave a detailed report to the police and took officers to the home where the incident took place.

Judge Michael Taylor set bail at $100,000, and Brown posted the 10 percent bond.

In late 2014, Brown changed his representation from Matthew W. Kitchens to Thomas M. Fortner of the firm Lowrey and Fortner.

A trial date was set for March 2016, and later rescheduled for March 2016. Hearings and trials are rescheduled often for a variety of reasons, with every effort taken by the court to ensure the accused has a fair trial.

In May, a motion was granted to continue his trial to Sept. 13, 2016. The motion to continue said the defense had been unable to obtain the services of an expert witness in the field of forensic pathology until recently.

In the motion, the defense said the state had acknowledged it will not seek the death penalty, however the alternative minimum sentence for a conviction is life without possibility of parole.

Since that continuance was granted, Brown’s trial has been rescheduled three more times — for Jan. 17, then June 12 and now for Sept. 25.

As with any case, the accused is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Jamaal Brown