Brandon Brown Convicted of First-degree Murder

Brandon Brown listens to testimony during his first degree murder trial Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 at the Johnson County district courthouse in Iowa City. Brown is accused of gunning down Donnelle Lindsey, 30, of Iowa City, on June 21, 2012. (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY, Iowa - A Johnson County jury has convicted Brandon Brown of killing an Iowa City man in 2012.

Jury deliberations began shortly after noon Tuesday after attorneys delivered their closing arguments and the defense called its final witness.

Brown, 28, was on trial for the murder of a Iowa City High School graduate, Donnelle Lindsey. Brown is accused of gunning down Lindsey, 30, of Iowa City, on June 21, 2012. According to witnesses and police, Brown asked Lindsey to walk down the street with him at 11:26 p.m. that night and an argument ensued. Police said Brown pulled a handgun and shot Lindsey multiple times at close range. Paramedics were called to 2437 Petsel Place and Lindsey was taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he was pronounced dead.

Brown fled the area, but was arrested two months later on Aug. 21 at a home belonging to one of his friends in South Holland, Ill. Police tracked him there after receiving a tip Brown was in the area.

While the state’s closing argument dealt mostly on the elements of first-degree murder, the defense’s closing and the state’s rebuttal both focused on the credibility of three of the state’s witnesses – Byron Fisher, DiMarco Harris and Nicole Blosser. Fisher and Harris testified to seeing Brown shoot Lindsey and Blosser said Brandon confessed to shooting a man while Blosser was driving him to Chicago in the hours after the shooting.

Brian Sissel, one of Brown’s attorneys, pointed out during his closing argument that those three witnesses were not reliable. They did not initially cooperate with police inquires and gave conflicting statements.

Sissel particularly hammered on the differences between Harris and Fisher’s testimony. Despite being alleged eye witnesses, they gave different accounts of where the shooting actually occurred on Petsel Place, what color of clothing Brown was wearing at the time of the shooting, the color of the gun and if Brown left the group before returning and shooting Lindsey.

"There are lots of unanswered questions in this case,” Sissel said. “And all we can rely on is witnesses the state have called that have been lying and misleading this whole entire trial; this whole entire investigation."

In his rebuttal, Assistant Johnson County Attorney Dana Christiansen said witnessing the traumatic shooting might have affected the men’s memory.

“Facts blend together,” he said. “Facts become difficult to recall.”

Christiansen also cited the testimony of Det. David Gonzalez who testified witnesses often times have an initial unwillingness to cooperate in violent crime investigations. He urged the jurors to try to reconcile the discrepancies in testimony and determine what they should believe.

"Byron had no reason to lie,” he said. “The defendant was Byron’s friend. Why would he cook up this accusation against Brandon Brown?"

Brown faces a mandatory punishment of life in prison.
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