Defense attorney withdraws motion for a mistrial in pizza delivery man’s murder case
Brown’s attorney, Mark Leiendecker, a public defender, made the motion for a mistrial following the swearing in of a SLED employee. The jury was sent to their jury room, while Leiendecker argued against the woman being allowed to testify. The SLED worker was not the one who conducted the gunshot residue exam. The woman who conducted the exam was unable to testify because of medical issues, according to prosecutors.
Leiendecker argued that he was being denied the right to cross examine the individual who wrote the report. He also told the judge he hadn’t seen the report by SLED on the GSR test. Leiendecker asked the judge for a mistrial because of a “several issues” in the trial. He argued that prosecutors should have waited longer to try the case.
“We had no desire to rush this case to trial. They could have put this off to another term of court. At this juncture that the chain of evidence is incomplete, I move for a mistrial and a mistrial with prejudice,” Leiendecker said. Circuit Court Judge Ed Dickson spoke with attorneys in his chambers and Leiendecker announced to the court he had seen the report, after closer observation. He withdrew his motion for a mistrial based on the claim he hadn’t seen the SLED report. Leiendecker said that despite the clarification, there are still several issues that need to be addressed before they move on. Circuit Court Judge Ed Dickson dismissed the jury for the day so that the issues could be resolved before testimony continues tomorrow.
Before the trial began Tuesday, Brown’s co-defendant, Jontae Davis, 18, who also had been charged with murder and was to be tried with Brown, accepted a plea deal. Davis pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and armed robbery and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He testified against Brown during the first day of trial Tuesday and claimed he was with Brown at the time of the murder. The pair are accused of ordering food from the Domino’s Pizza store in Coosaw Creek and waiting for the delivery man in the parking lot to rob him, according to investigators. When Birdsong was walking to his car, the pair approached him, investigators said. Brown pointed a gun at Birdsong and demanded he hand over the food, which he did, prosecutors said. Brown demanded Birdsong’s cell phone but he said he didn’t have it on him, Davis testified. When Birdsong turned around and started to run away, Brown shot him in the back of the head, Davis said during testimony Tuesday.
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.