Brian Brown Convicted; Defense Attorney Wanted New Trial
Utica, NY (WIBX) - An Oneida County jury has convicted Brian Brown on all eleven counts related to two local bank robberies and of shooting an Oneida County Sheriff's Deputy.
The verdict came Monday afternoon, after one of the original jurors had to leave due to a family emergency on Monday morning. Because the juror was dismissed, the defense could have requested a mistrial. said Brown's attorney John Leonard. Brown agreed to the substitution, despite the advice of his attorney, Leonard said.
"My client wanted them to come back. I suggested that they release [the jurors] and start [the trial] over. But, he wanted that jury with those people, so he's the one who made the final decision, which was put on the record. He agreed to the substitution and has to live with that part of it," Leonard said.
Brown was found guilty of six counts of first-degree robbery for the hold ups of Bank of America in Utica, on May 27th, 2010 and NBT Bank in Rome on July 29th, 2010. The jury also convicted Brown of attempted aggravated murder, aggravated assault of a police officer and three counts of criminal possession of a weapon.
Brown, who took the stand in his own defense, accused law enforcement of covering up several aspects of the investigation. Among them, Brown claimed he actually fired more rounds at deputy Burger than the prosecution said he did. Brown also believed it was 'impossible' that one of his bullets hit Burger. Instead he said Burger accidentally shot himself.
And, Brown testified about his belief that law enforcement took Burger's patrol car to a body shop to repair bullet holes in the driver-side door. However, he said he didn't know why they would do that. Brown also said there was a third person hiding in the backseat of his car during the vehicle and foot chase, but refused to identify that person.
While speaking with the media after the verdict, Leonard said he hoped local law enforcement learned something and won't 'gloss over' one particular aspect of this trial.
He's talking about Brown's right to an attorney.
During the video confession played for the jury, Sheriff's Investigator Chris Ferguson reads Brown his Miranda rights. Then, Brown says "I don't have an attorney."
Feguson replies, "You don't need one."
This issue seemed to catch the attention of the jury, which sent out a note to Judge Michael Dwyer asking to again watch that specific portion of the video as they deliberated.
Leonard referenced a previous case where there was a question about a suspects use of 'lawyer'.
"I had a murder trial about two years ago with a Spanish person that, through the little [English] he knew, asked for an attorney and none was provided for him. This is not the first time this has happened in this county. The only good thing on this one is, it was actually caught on tape. Hopefully, they change their interrogation techniques, and if anybody mentions something about an attorney, give him one."
Oneida County Assistant District Attorney Kurt Hameline is no stranger to prosecuting cases involving police officers who are wounded, or murdered. Hameline tried the case of Toussaint Davis, who was convicted of robbing the Lennon's W.B. Wilcox Jewelers in New Hartford, a robbery that resulted in the murder of New Hartford patrolman Joseph Corr. Hameline prosecuted the Brown case with Grant Garramone, also an assistant District Attorney.
"We're prosecutors, [Burger] is law enforcement. He got up that morning, going to work just like we all do, never expecting to have what happened to him that day. I think it shows the danger that police officers are exposed to each and every day. When you get up in the morning you never know if you're going to come home at night," Hameline said.
Regarding Brown's accusation that police were covering up certain aspects of the case, Hameline said, "I just thought it was a desperate attempt. In my closing, I called it the 'spaghetti defense'...he threw everything at the wall hoping something would stick, obviously it didn't."
Hameline said he has never had a defendant say he shot at the police more times than the prosecution claimed.
"That's never happened before. I didn't understand it myself, how that was going to help him. Why the police would tamper with evidence, why the police would repair their police car that had bullet holes in it. It made no sense to me and obviously it didn't make any sense to the jury."