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Plea puts stop to federal death penalty trial

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The first-ever federal death penalty trial for the Southern District of Indiana was set to start today, but a plea agreement means a trial likely won't be happening at all for a man connected to a violent killing spree four years ago.

However, the Evansville court and U.S. Attorney's Office have been in this position before when the same defendant, Jarvis Brown, signed a plea agreement in September 2008 after months of postponements in the trial. Federal prosecutors indicted Brown in 2006, showing that Brown and two other men committed a crime spree and shot 12 people - killing four and wounding eight. The criminal activity was part of a series of robberies, attempted robberies, and shootings in Indianapolis and Evansville during an 18-day period in December 2005 that was all connected to a drug trafficking operation.

Last fall's plea agreement would have meant life in prison rather than execution for Brown, but he refused to sign a petition as the judge wanted, and the trial was rescheduled.

Now, attorneys have reached a similar result this time around. According to an entry dated March 17, the plea agreement entails Brown pleading guilty to six charges: murder to keep a woman from talking to law enforcement; three firearms counts, a count of drug trafficking conspiracy, and a count involving the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of narcotics.

All sides have agreed, and the court found Brown to be fully competent and capable of entering the plea agreement. A sentencing hearing is set before U.S. District Judge Richard Young in Evansville at 1:30 p.m. June 30.

Cases remain open for co-defendants Gabriel Jordan and Teddy Weems, though docket entries show Weems pleaded guilty at one point and Jordan's case could still lead to a death penalty trial.

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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