Testimony Begins in Brown Murder Trial

By Lee Hermiston & Mark Carlson, Reporters

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Byron Fisher told attorneys and a panel of jurors that he was certain Brandon Brown shot and killed Donnelle Lindsey the night of June 21, 2012.

"They were talking," Fisher testified Thursday. "Donnelle didn't respond. That's when he shot him."

But, was Fisher two feet away from the shooting or 10 feet? Was Brown dressed in a white T-shirt and shorts or all black? Could Fisher make out the color of the gun used in the shooting or not?

Inconsistencies appeared throughout Fisher's testimony Thursday afternoon, the first day of testimony in the first-degree murder case. Fisher, a friend of both Brown and Lindsey's was the state's first witness and the only witness called Thursday.

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.

Fisher testified he had hung out with Brown the evening of the shooting. The men shared a bottle of Grey Goose vodka. Later that night, they encountered Lindsey and DiMarco Harris on Petsel Place. The men discussed going to the convenience store nearby to buy some beer before an argument took place between Brown and Lindsey.

"We didn't even get that far, he and Donnelle had some words" Lindsey said. "I don't even know what it was about."

Fisher testified Brown left but returned five or 10 minutes later armed with a gun. Brown pulled the trigger four times, Lindsey testified.

Fisher told Assistant Johnson County Attorney Dana Christiansen that he cooperated with police throughout the investigation. However, during cross-examination, it was revealed that Fisher did not answer his door for police when they canvassed the neighborhood, denied having any knowledge of the shooting when they came back to his apartment and continued to deny knowing anything about it until police suggested he could be tried as an accomplice. Fisher did not call 911 after the shooting, he testified.

It was also shown through cross-examination that Fisher gave inconsistent statements about several details, including whether he had a cellphone in the interview room and if he described the gun to officers. Fisher denied telling the officers he knew what the gun looked like, but a video interview depicted him describing the weapon to police.

"Why are you making things up then?" Defense Attorney Brian Sissel asked.

"I'm not making stuff up," Fisher responded.

During her opening statement to the jury, defense attorney Sarah Hradek urged the jurors to ask "why," – why testimony like Fisher's was inconsistent or why police had no physical evidence to connect Brown to Lindsey.

"What the state has described to you seems like an open and shut case," she said. "The problem is real life is hardly ever just that simple."

However, in his opening, Christiansen said the testimony of eye witnesses like Fisher and Harris, as well as police, will prove Brown's guilt.

"After all of the evidence has been received...I'll be asking you for your verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree," Christiansen said.

The state plans to call Harris, several police officers and the woman who allegedly drove Brown to Chicago after the shooting to the stand on Friday.
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