At the end of two hours of deliberation Thursday, a Comanche County jury determined it was vengeance over fear that motivated David Keith Winbush to shoot and kill a Lawton High School freshman in 2018.
The jury found Winbush, 37, guilty of first-degree murder — deliberate intent for his actions that resulted in the death of Brian Marques Brown Jr. early the morning of Dec. 9, 2018. They recommended he serve a life sentence in prison with opportunity for parole.
District Judge Emmit Tayloe reminded the jury the State of Oklahoma terms 45 years as a life sentence. Due to the violent nature of the crime, Winbush would have to serve 85 percent of the sentence, or 38 years and three months, before becoming eligible for parole.
Winbush requested a pre-sentence investigation before formal sentencing. Tayloe ordered the investigation with the report due back by May 17. Formal sentencing will be at 11 a.m. May 19 in his courtroom.
Brown’s mother, Jennifer Patterson, wiped away tears after seeing Winbush handcuffed and led away.
“Thank you, God,” she said. “We left it in his hands. Justice was served, that’s what matters.”
Following the reading of the verdict, Assistant District Attorney Jill Oliver came to the gallery and embraced Patterson. Both hugged tightly as tears flowed.
“You are so strong,” she said to Patterson.
The four days of jury selection and trial has been taxing on Brown’s family. His aunt, Johnnie Brown, said the photos shown of the teen’s fatal wounds was the hardest part to take. She just hopes her family and Brown’s friends who were involved can find peace.
Brown was shot at 12:18 a.m. Dec. 9, 2018, according to the timing of the 911 call made by Jessie Burk, who had ridden to the scene where Winbush’s stolen truck had been stopped by Geronimo Martinez Jr. The truck had been taken by two teens shortly before midnight Dec. 8, 2018.
Burk and Winbush piled into an SUV driven by Kendall Jirtle after Martinez let Winbush know he’d found the truck. While en route, Burk called 911. The audio proved damning while played in the courtroom. Following the sound of car doors closing, two distinct gunshots were heard before Jirtle screamed “David, don’t.”
“There is no other evidence that anybody else shot Brian Brown,” said Assistant District Attorney Christine Galbraith in her closing arguments. “This defendant intended to kill Brian.”
Galbraith said Winbush’s comments to Lawton Police Officer Austin Mahsetky about if he had caught the thieves in the act of stealing his truck relayed during earlier testimony showed insight into his intent.
“He told him he was going to shoot that truck up and fill it with lead,” she said. “We can all agree he was mad, that anger is why he intended to teach this kid a lesson.”
During his recorded interview with detectives, Winbush was adamant in his statements that Brown was the teen who took his truck. One of the other three teens who had been riding in the truck has acknowledged it was him and another teen who took the truck.
Lawrence Corrales, Winbush’s attorney, said in his closing argument that Winbush had assumed Brown had a weapon when he pulled the trigger. No weapons other than Winbush’s were recovered from the crime scene.
“It’s a tough case for more than one reason,” Corrales said. “It’s a tragedy. But here we are, we’re in trial. There’s not going to be any winners here today.”
Corrales argued Winbush had assumed Brown had a weapon when he pushed himself off the ground to run away. He said his client fired his weapon out of fear.
“It boils down to this: two shots, split-second reaction,” he said. “Nobody’s a winner in this deal.”
When Brown was kept face down in the roadway where Martinez stopped the truck between the 1200 and 1300 blocks of Southwest Bishop Road, Oliver said it was fear that caused him to run when he saw Winbush approaching. Although the killer told police he was scared, she said that the 5-feet, 7-inch teen was the one in terror.
Brown would make it a short distance through the snow before collapsing face-first into the roadway near Southwest 13th Street and Oklahoma Avenue. He was pronounced dead at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.
Winbush remains in the Comanche County Detention Center awaiting his formal sentencing. If the judge follows the jury’s recommendation, he will be 75-years-old before he’s next eligible for freedom.
Written by Scott Rains: email@example.com.