LUMBERTON — Marques Brown was sentenced Monday to a maximum of 27 years in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder in the 2012 shooting death of a Lumberton police officer.
District Attorney Johnson Britt had pushed for first-degree murder and life in prison, and didn’t hide his feelings following the verdict. The death penalty has been removed as an option before the trial began on Feb. 12 because of questions about Brown’s mental capabilities.
“I am not happy with the outcome,” Britt said. “All I can do is put it in the jurors’ hands. They decide. It’s their voice.”
Brown was on trial for the shooting death of Lumberton police Officer Jeremiah Goodson Jr. Goodson, who was off duty and in civilian attire, was shot four times as he stepped from his vehicle to serve a warrant on Brown. The defense was apparently successful in convincing the jury that Brown did not know Goodson was an officer, and that Brown worried his life was in danger.
Brown also was found guilty of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of marijuana with intent to sell or distribute. Superior Court Judge Robert Floyd consolidated those charges and sentenced Brown to a minimum of 21 months and a maximum of 35 months in prison on them.
It was an emotional day for Goodson’s widow, Lametria Goodson Hunt, who has since remarried. She wept intermittently during closing arguments, the reading of the verdict and the sentencing phase. Members of Goodson’s family and his close friends comforted her throughout the last day of trial.
One woman, whose name could not be obtained, could not contain her emotions. She abruptly stood and began expressing her dissatisfaction with the verdict.
“This is what they call justice?” she said. “This man will have a life. All we have are memories.”
Tears were evident throughout the courtroom.
“It’s been a long journey for the family,” Britt said. “I don’t know if anyone on our left (seated behind the prosecution team) had expected the verdict.”
Not everyone was unhappy.
“I am thankful that it’s not first-degree murder. He didn’t lie in wait,” said Delphine Brown, Marques Brown’s sister. “I hate that it happened. My brother is a really good person, and Jeremiah was a good person.”
Britt and defense attorneys Lisa Miles and Junius B. Lee presented their closing arguments Monday morning to the jury in Courtroom 2A.
Jurors were given instructions pertaining to the verdict after the prosecution and defense rested their cases. They were told they had the option of finding Brown guilty of first-degree or second-degree murder, or finding Brown not guilty.
The jury unanimously delivered its verdict to the court at 3:36 p.m.
The jury then was asked to consider four aggravating factors and returned to the jury room to deliberate. The jurors re-entered the courtroom about 5:42 p.m. to announce they had accepted two aggravating factors and rejected two.
Floyd used the aggravating factors as a tool in determining Brown’s sentence.
The defense asked Floyd for a new trial and was denied. The defense attorneys then said they intended to file an appeal.
No bond will be granted while Brown’s defense team files the appeal.
Once all legal proceedings were completed Floyd said, “He is in custody.”
Court was adjourned, and Brown was quickly taken out of the courtroom and to the Robeson County jail.
Reach Annick Joseph by calling 910-416-5165 or via email at [email protected] or Facebook Annick MultiMedia Journalist.