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Federal death penalty trial still possible

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The first-ever federal death penalty trial in the Southern District of Indiana may still happen, even though the defendant has signed a plea agreement in connection with a violent killing spree almost three years ago.

A plea hearing was set today for Jarvis Brown, who was one of three men charged with a series of robberies, attempted robberies, and shootings in Indianapolis and Evansville during an 18-day period in December 2005. All parties signed a plea agreement, but a courtroom deputy in U.S. District Judge Richard Young's Evansville chambers said a morning plea hearing didn't happen as planned. Though both sides have signed a plea agreement, Brown refused to sign a petition that the judge wanted on the record.

Now, the judge has given Brown until Oct. 9 to file a petition with the court. If that doesn't happen, the plea agreement will be taken off the table and a death penalty trial will be rescheduled.

Federal prosecutors indicted Brown in June 2006, showing the men during their crime spree shot 12 people - killing four and wounding eight. The U.S. Attorney's Office requested the death penalty for the trio; cases remain ongoing for co-defendants Gabriel Jordan and Teddy Weems.

The case was originally set for trial earlier this year but was repeatedly continued as plea negotiations occurred. The agreement between the U.S. Attorney's Office and Brown came Sept. 19 and would mean the Indianapolis man would likely spend the rest of his life in prison rather than being executed.

In the 12-page plea agreement, Brown agrees to plead guilty to six counts ranging from murder of a witness to prevent them from communicating with police; conspiracy to posess and distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine and marijuana; conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence; use of a firearm during a crime of violence; and drug trafficking that resulted in murder. The agreement states that Brown, who is in his late 20s, will cooperate with authorities and be subject to five life sentences and a 20-year imprisonment, all to run consecutively.

Neither the U.S. Attorney's Office nor Brown's attorneys in Evansville returned a call today from Indiana Lawyer.

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  1. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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