Brown gets 12 years in mur­der case

Stab­bing at party re­sulted in Spring­dale teen’s death

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

FAYETTEVILLE — Rashad San­ton Brown was sen­tenced Wed­nes­day to 12 years in prison for stab­bing Cedric Oliver to death.

A Wash­ing­ton County jury found Brown guilty of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der Tues­day. The seven women and five men re­turned Wed­nes­day and agreed on a sen­tence. Brown faced six to 30 years at the Arkansas De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tion.

Brown, 19, killed Oliver, 19, of Spring­dale at a party Dec. 12, 2015, at 811 W. Peachtree Drive.

Brown was 17 when he and Oliver were at the party. A ver­bal ar­gu­ment be­tween the two es­ca­lated to a phys­i­cal fight.

Brown said the stab­bing was ac­ci­den­tal. Wit­nesses said it was in­ten­tional.

The sen­tenc­ing hear­ing was tense and there was ex­tra se­cu­rity in and around the Court­house An­nex, which houses Cir­cuit Judge Joanna Taylor’s court­room. Sev­eral peo­ple an­grily left the court­room when Brown stood up in the wit­ness stand and tried to of­fer an apol­ogy.

“It’s a sad sit­u­a­tion. I wish it never hap­pened,” Brown told the jury. “I grieve for his fam­ily and mine. He was a good per­son. I apol­o­gize to ev­ery­body.”

Oliver’s girl­friend, Sarah Mer­ri­weather left the court­room in tears af­ter tes­ti­fy­ing, her sobs echo­ing from the hall.

Mer­ri­weather told ju­rors Oliver made peo­ple around him happy and al­ways brought peo­ple to­gether. The two had planned to start a fam­ily to­gether, she said.

“The day of, we looked at rings be­cause he didn’t want to get me the wrong thing,” Mer­ri­weather said.

Be­fore the jury re­tired to de­lib­er­ate Brown’s sen­tence, Deputy Prose­cu­tor Brian Lamb re­minded them while Dec. 12, 2015, was a bad day for Brown, it was Ced­eric Oliver’s last.

“I don’t have a chart that can tell you how many years Cedric’s life is worth. It doesn’t ex­ist,” Lamb said. “Rashad Brown will get up to­mor­row. There are no more to­mor­rows for Cedric. There are no more to­mor­rows for Sarah and Cedric to­gether.”

Paul Younger, Brown’s at­tor­ney, urged the jury to con­sider be­cause of his young age Brown will one day walk out of prison.

“Sen­tence in a way to re­ha­bil­i­tate,” Younger said. “No num­ber of years will bring Cedric back.”

Brown was charged with first-de­gree mur­der, but ju­rors were able to con­sider the lesser in­cluded of­fenses of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, man­slaugh­ter or neg­li­gent homi­cide. Ju­rors took just over two hours Tues­day to de­cide on sec­ond-de­gree mur­der. Sen­tenc­ing de­lib­er­a­tion took a lit­tle more than an hour Wed­nes­day.

“The jury heard the ev­i­dence, they de­lib­er­ated and those were the ver­dicts and the sen­tence they thought ap­pro­pri­ate based on the ev­i­dence. I will stand by the re­sult they came up with,” Lamb said af­ter the sen­tenc­ing. “I charged him with mur­der in the first de­gree, which would have car­ried a larger penalty so, in that sense, I thought the ev­i­dence sup­ported it, but that’s what the jury sys­tem is for and that’s the de­ci­sion they made. It doesn’t just work when it goes my way, it works all the time.”

Younger said he thought the jury’s de­ci­sions were fair even though no one re­ally got ev­ery­thing they wanted.

“On the orig­i­nal ver­dict, we had pushed for man­slaugh­ter, but based on the ev­i­dence that was pre­sented, I think the jury got this one right. I think it was ap­pro­pri­ate to con­vict him of mur­der in the sec­ond de­gree. I think they could have gone ei­ther way on that,” Younger said. “I think that’s also re­flected in the sen­tenc­ing. They were a bit more le­nient on him, so I think that shows they had a hes­i­ta­tion be­tween those two charges. At the end of the day, 12 years is, I think, a fair sen­tence. I think the pun­ish­ment fits the crime, and I’m happy with the jury and the ser­vice they pro­vided.”


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