LUMBERTON — The man charged with the 2012 shooting death of a Lumberton police officer took the witness stand Wednesday, describing a troubled childhood and saying he did not recognize the person he killed as a lawman.
Marques Brown, 33, who is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Officer Jeremiah Goodson Jr., was the first person the defense called to the stand. That happened after District Attorney Johnson Britt closed prosecution’s case Wednesday morning.
“What was it like growing up before you went to live with your grandmother?” court-appointed defense attorney Lisa Miles asked Brown.
Brown recounted how the absence and illness of his mother led him to make wrong decisions.
“She was in the streets, like she was never there,” he said. “It affected me a lot. I kinda of went in the same direction.”
His mother lost custody of all her children about the time Brown was in first grade.
“They tried to separate us, in foster care, but my grandmother got us,” he said.
As Brown testified, his mother, Larshonda Brown, and his sister Delphine Brown sobbed.
Brown said he was in fourth grade when he saw a dead person for the first time.
“I seen people shot. I seen dead bodies. I seen people shooting,” Brown said. “I seen people dead on the ground.”
Despite being in his grandmother’s custody, he was exposed to a lot of bad things, Brown said.
“We passed drug dealers standing on the block, on the side,” he said. “Somebody got shot, killed, you could see his head blew off. You could see things on the ground.”
In 2011, after Brown was released from prison, he lived with his oldest sister. He met Corshia Wilson, who had a child by another man, and began to spend time with her.
The father of Wilson’s child threatened him in April 2012, Brown said.
“If he saw me with the baby, he was going to kill me,” he said.
On another occasion, he was with one of his cousins and arrived at his sister’s house, but he didn’t have a key, so they had to wait, Brown said. They decided to smoke some marijuana while they waited.
“I heard six gunshots,” he said.
Brown later learned that someone who goes by the name of “Fat Boy” was killed that night.
Rumors started implicating him and his cousin in the death of Fat Boy, Brown said.
He needed a gun for safety because of death threats and being shot at, Brown said.
Between the days Fat Boy and Goodson were killed, he was shot at about five times, Brown said.
The defense introduced into evidence four photos showing an older model car with a passenger car window shot out, three bullet holes on the passenger side and a bullet hole in the middle of the windshield.
Brown described several more incidents that led him to fear for his life.
“I started acting different. I don’t know how to describe it,” he said. “More alert, more intense. I was terrified. When the guy got killed, I got a gun.”
Miles then asked Brown to describe the events that led to the shooting of Goodson.
Brown said that he had left a hotel with his girlfriend and her daughter. They stopped by his grandmother’s house, gave her some money and then went to pick up his youngest sister before going to the store for his aunt.
He said he stopped at about four stores to pick up a hard-to-find brand of cigarettes for his aunt, some beer and cigars.
Brown said his sister and girlfriend went into the store as he waited with the girlfriend’s daughter.
As he was texting his cousin, he saw a car beside him.
“I seen a man look at me, with hate, looking at me,” he said. “I turnt. I was sitting on the passenger. I shot three times.”
Miles said that the autopsy showed Goodson was shot four times.
“I thought it was one of those guys. I was terrified, everything disappeared,” Brown said. “I heard, ‘Let me see your hands.’ I said, ‘This man tried to kill me, I have a baby in the car.’”
Brown said he heard someone screaming Goodson’s name.
“I know the name not the face,” he said. “I didn’t know who this was.”
Brown testified that he has been arrested before, but never by an officer who wasn’t either in a police vehicle, wearing a uniform, or wearing a badge.
Brown insisted he did not know Goodson was a police officer. If he had known he would have run instead of just sitting in the car, or he also would have shot at the police officer who had him at gunpoint after Goodson was shot.
Miles then introduced the interrogation video into evidence.
It showed agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the State Bureau of Investigation questioning Brown.
Brown was asked about the death of Fat Boy, why he feared for his life and about knowing Goodson.
Brown said that the only time he came in contact with Goodson was when Goodson had confronted him long ago about an open container. Brown said he had no ill will against Goodson. He was concerned about the men who had been shooting at him, Brown said.
“I feel bad cause it was an innocent person,” he said. “I will be honest, if it was them (men he felt threatened by) I wouldn’t feel bad.
Brown was adamant that he did not know who Goodson was.
“The man could have walked in front of me and I wouldn’t know who he was,” Brown said in the video.
Three hours, 11 minutes and 28 seconds of video played for the jury on Tuesday.
The remaining 30 minutes of the recording will be played today.
Before Brown was called to the witness stand Miles introduced Dave Cloutier as an expert witness on the use of force techniques and general police procedures.
The jury was asked to step out of the courtroom before the defense argued the relevance of Cloutier’s testimony. Cloutier had reviewed Brown’s interrogation video, Goodson’s personnel file, Brown’s criminal history, among other items, that would indicate Goodson did not follow proper procedure when he attempted to arrest Brown on a warrant.
Miles and assistant defense attorney Junius B. Lee argued for almost 30 minutes that Cloutier’s testimony should be heard by the jury.
Judge Robert Floyd said Cloutier’s testimony was “not relevant at this junction” but he would make a ruling later.
Miles is using self-defense and intellectual deficiency as a defense. Brown was declared intellectually deficient for a capital case during a hearing in January.
Britt is asking that Brown be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Goodson was killed July 17, 2012, at a Shell gasoline station on Fayetteville Road in North Lumberton, not far from the Exit 22 overpass on Interstate 95 that now is named in his honor. Goodson was off duty and out of uniform when he died trying to serve an arrest warrant on Brown for two charges of failure to appear in court, one charge of possession of firearm by a felon, and one charge of carrying a concealed weapon.
The trial will continue today at 9:30 a.m. in courtroom 2A.
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