Jury sentences Marcellus Brown to 60 years in prison

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Sept. 25, 2012 at 4:25 a.m.

Marcellus Brown

Marcellus Brown

A jury sentenced Marcellus Brown to 60 years in prison and assessed a $10,000 fine after they found him guilty of shooting up homes near Pine Street Park with a group of teens last summer.

The jury deliberated for almost four hours Tuesday before returning its verdict.

On Monday, Brown, 21, was found guilty of engaging in organized criminal activity, but not guilty of murder in connection with the shooting death of Daniel Davila, 24, of Victoria.

After the jury levied its punishment, Davila's mother, Liza Davila, confronted Brown by making a victim impact statement.

She said she was sickened by the smile Brown wore into the courtroom Tuesday.

"My son was a good person. He did not deserve what you did to him," she said while shaking and reading from a letter she prepared.

She said his youngest daughter, age 2, will never know her father, and Davila's 5-year-old daughter repeatedly asks why the people believed to be involved took him away from her.

"I hate you. I hate you. You are a worthless piece of trash," Liza Davila said. "It sucks that you are able to see your family ... All I have are pictures and memories."

Through the trial, the state maintained Davila was perhaps unintentionally killed by a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun wielded by Brown.

The state held this happened after Brown helped his friends obtain weapons and sought revenge for a fight about beer that broke out hours earlier at 806 Ash St.

A neighbor found Davila's body some 10 hours later behind a shed at the 900 block of Goldman Street.

The charge was enhanced from a second degree felony to first degree because Brown had a prior felony conviction in April 2009 for possession of a controlled substance. Punishment for a first degree felony ranges from five to 99 years.

Brown may be eligible for parole after serving for 30 years.

Defense attorney Micah Hatley said Brown plans to file an appeal this week. Judge Stephen Williams appointed Luis Martinez as his appellate attorney.

Brown's mother, Rennia Brown, wept as the verdict was read. She declined to comment after the sentencing.

During closing arguments, Hatley asked the jury to be mindful of how immature a person can be in their 20s as well as the sentences given to co-defendants, such Jefferson Hill and Kia Johnson.

Hill, 19, may serve 15 years in prison in exchange for his earlier testimony in Brown's trial. He told jurors he fired shots from a 22-caliber revolver that night near the intersection of Pine and Goldman streets and Brown was firing a weapon right beside him.

Johnson, 31, may receive 10 years of probation in exchange for her testimony in Brown's trial. She testified she provided weapons and drove them to the neighborhood

In rebuttal, District Attorney Stephen Tyler said Brown had an opportunity to turn his life around when he was previously released from prison, but squandered it.

"The best predictor of the future is the past imperfect thought as it might be," he told jurors.

Tyler said after the trial he believed the sentence was fair, and this case is a tragedy for all involved.

"The real lesson here is that Daniel Davila is dead and that these other young people's lives are destroyed ... How much time they serve will vary," he said.

Hatley said afterward he was disappointed with the decision, though he was not surprised. He said it's up to the jury to decide what's fair.

"People don't like when you shoot in a neighborhood," he said outside the courthouse courtroom. "Whether my client shot a gun is still a question for me."

"This is the beginning, not the end," he said.



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