Brown gets 12 years in murder case
Stabbing at party resulted in Springdale teen’s death
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.”