Emotions Boil Over in Brandon Brown Murder Trial Testimony

By Lee Hermiston, Reporter

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 - An Iowa City woman told jurists Friday that she heard Brandon Brown confess to shooting a man hours after the homicide occurred on June 21, 2012.

Nicole Blosser, 21, testified that she and her boyfriend, Ivan Hardemon were outside their Pheasant Ridge apartment the evening of June 21 when they heard shots ring out near Petsel Place. The two ran inside and soon after, Hardemon made or received a phone call. He left the apartment and when he came back, he was with the man on trial this week for the murder of Donelle Lindsey, Brandon Brown.

Blosser said Hardemon said they had to leave, so Blosser left her six-month-old daughter behind with Blosser’s mother and the trio left for Chicago, passing police squad cars responding to the shooting as they left.

It was during that car ride that Blosser heard Brown and Hardemon talking about the shooting, she testified.

“Did you hear Brandon Brown say anything?” Assistant Johnson County Attorney Dana Christiansen asked Blosser.

“He said he shot somebody,” Blosser said.

Blosser and DiMarco Harris both testified on Friday – the second day of testimony – and both connected Brown to the murder. However, both Blosser and DiMarco came under scrutiny from the defense for giving conflicting statements and no cooperating with police.

Brown, 28, is on trial this week for Lindsey’s murder. 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.

Blosser testified that it was she and Hardemon who took Brown to Chicago after the shooting. After dropping Brown off, Hardemon told Blosser not to talk about the incident or cooperate with police, warning her that he couldn’t help her.

When the two returned to Iowa City, Blosser said they picked up a shoebox containing two small, black guns and took them to a residence at the Breckenridge Mobile Home Park outside of Iowa City. It was there that Hardemon was killed in a shootout with police in August of that year.

Under cross-examination, Blosser admitted to withholding information from police the first three times she spoke with them and lying about her whereabouts that night. Blosser also said she has never told police about the statement Brown made in the car.

“You go to police and vow to be truthful and that doesn’t come out, is that what you’re telling us today?” Defense attorney Brian Sissel asked her. Blosser said that was true, but said she has been honest in depositions and on the stand.

Emotions briefly boiled over Friday morning when the state’s second witness, DiMarco Harris was on the stand. Harris had spent the day of the shooting with Lindsey and was nearby when he was fatally shot. Harris was tearing up as he described the Lindsey family blaming him for Lindsey’s death.

“Ain’t nobody apologized. Ain’t nobody asked how I feel. But that’s cool. I’ll deal with it,” Harris said, after drying his eyes on the sleeve of his shirt.

At that time, a member of the audience stood up and shouted at Harris.

“You left Donelle to die,” the woman said. She was escorted from the courtroom and was not allowed to return.

Harris spent the day with Lindsey. It was Harris’ first day of parole and Lindsey’s first day in Iowa City in a long time. The men spent time at Harris’ Petsel Place apartment, drank Hennessey and listened to music. Lindsey left on several occasions for a short period of time, but it has not been indicated where he went or what he was doing.

Testimony from Harris showed that around 10 p.m. that night, Lindsey called a friend for a ride. Harris waited for Lindsey outside of the apartment building when they were approached by two men, allegedly Byron Fisher, the state’s first witness, and Brown.

Harris testified that he had never seen Brown before, but Brown asked Lindsey if he could “holler at him.” The two men then walked a short distance and spoke privately.

As Harris and Fisher were talking, Fisher suddenly said, “Y’all need to cut that (stuff) out,” Harris testified. At that time, Brown drew a gun on Lindsey, Harris said.

“He upped the gun and shot him,” Harris said.

Harris said Brown fled and Fisher also tried to leave. Harris pursued Fisher to ask him the name of the shooter and why he shot Lindsey.

Neither Fisher nor Harris, the state’s two eye witnesses to the alleged shooting, called 911 to report the shooting or offered to speak with police that night. Harris testified he was afraid of violating his parole by being out after curfew and drinking.

Harris testified he went to the police station the following morning and positively identified Brown in a police line up. However, under cross examination, it was shown that Harris pointed to two photos and could not say with certainty which one was the shooter. It was not revealed if either photo was Brown’s.

Harris was also shown to have given conflicting statements to police and attorneys about other details.

The jury also heard from former University Heights reserve officer Johnny Platt, the first officer on the scene, who tried unsuccessfully to revive Lindsey. Iowa City police investigator Bob Hartman described photographing the scene and collecting evidence.

Hartman said they found intact bullets, but no discharged casings.

Testimony will resume Monday morning when Dr. Marcus Nashelsky, a forensic pathologist with UI Hospital and Clinics takes the stand.

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