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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. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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