update:Jury out, Murder Trial is underway
UPDATE: Jury deliberations in Bennie Brown's double murder trial started at 1:25 pm today. A juror was excused today and an alternate took her place because the juror recognized a witness, Chris Brown, “from the streets.”
Chris Brown is a relative of double murder suspect Bennie Ray Brown Jr., who is accused of shooting to death his girlfriend, Nicole Kingsborough, and Laurens County Sheriff’s Deputy Roger Rice in July, 2011. The defense has said Bennie Brown is remorseful about Kingsborough’s death, and he shot Rice in self-defense, because he thought a mob was gathering outside his house. The defense has said Brown’s shooting Rice to death is covered by the state’s “Castle Doctrine” (a person has a right to protect his own residence, even with deadly force).
The State plans to wrap up its case today (June 28). The trial is expected to last to the end of this week.
Chris Brown was testifying about he and other Bennie Brown relatives being outside the defendant’s house before law enforcement arrived. Because she recognized Chris Brown, the juror said she could not be impartial in considering the double murder and five attempted murder charges against Bennie Ray Brown.
Chris Brown has multiple weapons and is known on the streets as “not the most reputable character,” the juror said.
Bennie Brown called his relatives, confessed to killing Kingsborough at a Fountain Inn auto plant where she worked, and threatened to commit suicide. Rice shot Brown in the leg, before Brown allegedly shot Rice to death.
A jury has been seated and opening statements got underway today in the murder trial of Bennie Ray Brown Jr.
He is accused of shooting to death Nicole Kingsborough and Roger Rice, a Laurens County Sheriff’s deputy. The State is seeking the maximum sentence allowed by law - life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In 2011 at a preliminary hearing, Rice’s widow said, "I just want everybody to know that he robbed my kids of a good father, and he robbed me of a husband. My 8-year-old little girl will never be able to grow up and be walked down the aisle or anything by her father. He robbed my son, my son loved him so much and he took everything from him. He crushed all of us. I cannot believe he did it."
Since Rice’s death in July 2011, his widow, children and parents have attended a dedication of I-25/Hwy 56 interchange markers dedicating the intersection to Rice, and his parents have become active volunteers with the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office. A Christmas for Kids toy run and blood drive are held by LCSO each year in Rice’s memory.
Rice’s name is inscribed on the fallen officers monument on the Statehouse grounds in Columbia. He and Kingsborough were included in the victims of criminal domestic violence honored by The Safe Home of Laurens County in 2012.
Brown allegedly shot Kingsborough to death at her work in Fountain Inn. He allegedly shot Rice when the deputy responded to a house near Clinton where authorities believed Brown was staying after the Kingsborough homicide. Brown has a criminal record for domestic violence.
A judge has ruled he is not mentally competent to assist in his own defense against the death penalty. The State had argued for death, but Judge Frank Addy refused to allow that sentence to be imposed.
Brown was released on bond 14 days before Rice was killed, and Brown has 2002 and 2005 criminal domestic violence convictions on his record. He allegedly shot Kingsborough in the head, and was wounded in the leg by Rice before the deputy died.
The Eighth Circuit Solicitor’s Office is prosecuting The State’s case against Brown.