A North Charleston man arrested last year in connection with a 2016 armed robbery that left a man dead has been sentenced on lesser charges.
On Monday, Gary Brisbane, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful carrying of a pistol and entered an Alford plea on one count of strong arm robbery, according to court records.
An Alford plea allows a defendant to assert their innocence while acknowledging that a jury would likely convict them based on available evidence.
Brisbane originally faced murder and armed robbery charges. He received 90-day sentences on each of the lesser charges and was given credit for 539 days he has served in custody, according to court records. He was suspected in the Sept. 17, 2016 shooting death of 39-year-old Edward Jones.
North Charleston police officers were called at 10 p.m. that night to 3034 Terry Drive where they found Jones lying on the ground suffering gunshot wounds. He was transported to a hospital where he died.
A transcript of Monday's hearing released on Wednesday by the 9th Circuit Solicitor's Office provides more details about the incident and context about Brisbane's sentencing.
Officers found blood on the ground at the scene but didn't find anything else, according to the transcript's account of testimony by Burns Wetmore, the prosecutor on the case.
A second victim in the robbery was forced into a car trunk and not found until the next day. He told investigators that two masked men approached him and Jones demanding jewelry, cash and a cellphone, according to an arrest affidavit. He reported hearing several gunshots while inside the trunk.
In 2018, the State Law Enforcement Division matched DNA from blood at the crime scene to Brisbane, the prosecutor said. He was arrested on April 17, 2018.
Although authorities had evidence placing Brisbane at the scene, they learned on July 1 that a witness had been killed, Wetmore said.
That killing was in no way related to Brisbane, who was in custody at the time, said Dale Savage, one of his defense attorneys.
Nickie Jones, Edward's wife, made a brief statement to Judge Markley Dennis on Monday.
"I understand that sometimes people get a plea bargain ... But to me with the murder charges gone and there just ain’t no closure and my family will not have no kind of closure at all," Jones said. "It is disappointing. I just thought there was a chance; I was being told there was a chance simply because his DNA was out there."
Dennis said he understood her frustration but that his choices were to accept or reject the negotiated plea, according to the transcript.
"The state has got to prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt," Dennis said. "And the problem is you don’t have anybody to identify him. ... If you go to trial there is a chance he walks totally."