Trial be­gins in 2015 fa­tal stab­bing

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - RON WOOD

FAYETTEVILLE — Rashad San­ton Brown doesn’t deny he stabbed Cedric Oliver to death but his at­tor­ney said it wasn’t in­ten­tional.

Brown is charged with first-de­gree mur­der in the death of Oliver, 19, of Spring­dale. Brown’s trial be­gan Mon­day in Washington County Cir­cuit Court.

Brown was 17 when the stab­bing oc­curred at a party Dec. 12, 2015, at 811 W. Peachtree Drive. Brown and Oliver knew each other from play­ing sports. Oliver grad­u­ated from Spring­dale High School. Brown at­tended school in Fayetteville.

The pair ar­gued over some­thing dur­ing the party — it’s not clear what — then got into a fight and Brown stabbed Oliver in the heart, ac­cord­ing to the felony in­for­ma­tion given with the mur­der charge. Po­lice found Oliver col­lapsed in the front yard and he was pro­nounced dead at Washington Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter a short time later.

Of­fi­cers found a bloody knife in a nearby yard.

Pros­e­cu­tors said Brown, now 19, was the ag­gres­sor.

“Our vic­tim, Cedric Oliver had gone to this party and he was con­fronted by the de­fen­dant Rashad Brown,” deputy prose­cu­tor David Ber­caw told ju­rors. “He ba­si­cally came look­ing for a fight. They ar­gued. Cedric was sur­rounded by the de­fen­dant and by some of his friends. A scuf­fle broke out by the back door and ba­si­cally Rashad Brown started this thing.”

Party-go­ers told the two to take it out­side, Ber­caw said. There was shov­ing, some punches thrown. Brown had about 74 pounds on the taller Oliver and had him down.

Ber­caw said the two were sep­a­rated when Brown said “I’ve got some­thing for that,” charged at Oliver and hit him in the chest once with a fold­ing, lock-blade knife. The blade was about 3 inches long and punc­tured Oliver’s heart.

Po­lice and emer­gency re­spon­ders were on scene within min­utes but were un­able to save Oliver.

Paul Younger, Brown’s at­tor­ney, said the crowd at the party was en­cour­ag­ing the fight and at least one per­son helped Oliver.

Younger said Oliver was the ag­gres­sor and Brown, a 17-year-old high school stu­dent, only knew the per­son he came with.

Brown and Oliver were trapped in a cir­cle of peo­ple who en­cour­aged them to fight and at first Brown seemed to be win­ning, Younger said. Then, oth­ers in­ter­vened on Oliver’s

be­half, pulling Brown off Oliver and strik­ing him in the head.

“At that point it didn’t mat­ter how big the two peo­ple fight­ing were be­cause it was no longer one man ver­sus one man, it was one boy ver­sus a group of peo­ple,” Younger told ju­rors. “Af­ter that group stood Cedric and Rashad back up, Rashad pulled out a pocket knife. He did it in a mo­ment of shock from be­ing struck in the back of the head, in a mo­ment of haste when he re­al­ized the sit­u­a­tion was get­ting out of con­trol and the mo­ment he re­al­ized it was no longer a one-on-one fight but a sit­u­a­tion where those in the crowd would in­ter­fere and in­ter­vene in the fight on Cedric’s be­half. He took the pocket knife out to try to back peo­ple away from him, to re­lieve the sit­u­a­tion.”

Younger said it was Oliver who charged Brown.

“Cedric came at him, fail­ing to see the pocket knife, and the pocket knife ended up in Cedric’s chest. One small stab wound made by one small pocket knife that un­for­tu­nately went into Cedric’s heart and he died,” Younger said. “Be­cause the stab­bing was un­in­ten­tional,

the death of Cedric Oliver was un­in­ten­tional. Af­ter the stab­bing, Rashad pan­icked and he ran to es­cape retri­bu­tion from Cedric’s friends.”

Brown turned him­self in to po­lice later that day, Younger said.

Oliver’s long­time girl­friend, Sarah Mer­ri­weather, tes­ti­fied Mon­day that Brown was giv­ing the cou­ple dirty looks at the party and nei­ther she nor Oliver knew why. Brown asked Oliver if there was a beef be­tween them and Oliver said no, ac­cord­ing to Mer­ri­weather.

Brown walked away, but came back and the two started ar­gu­ing. Brown grabbed Oliver by the neck and they scuf­fled, Mer­ri­weather said.

The fight reignited in the front yard, Mer­ri­weather said. She said she didn’t see any­one in­ter­vene and there was no cir­cle of peo­ple en­cour­ag­ing the fight. The two got up and were squar­ing off to fight again when Brown charged at Oliver, Mer­ri­weather said.

“He ran up to Cedric and hit him in the chest and it knocked him back into a car,” Mer­ri­weather said. She didn’t see any­thing in Brown’s hands and did not re­al­ize Oliver had been stabbed un­til he stum­bled away and fell to the ground.

“He had a big gash in his chest and blood on his shirt,” Mer­ri­weather said.

The trial is ex­pected to take three to five days be­fore Cir­cuit Judge Joanna Tay­lor.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.