Michael Brown requests a jury trial, has trial postponed during virtual court appearance

He appeared virtually because he has COVID-19

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – The case against a former Marine who sparked a massive weeks-long manhunt last year after the murder of his mother’s boyfriend is being pushed back.

The two takeaways from Tuesday’s hearing are that Michael Brown’s trial is pushed back more than three months and he’s requesting a jury trial.

Brown appeared virtually from jail for the pre-trial motions hearing because he has the coronavirus.

Back in August, a court date was set for December 14, but Tuesday, that was moved to March 29, 2021.

On June 24, Brown was in court on for his preliminary hearing. Later, in early July, he was indicted on a first-degree murder charge and six other felony charges.

He was on the run for 18 days, leading authorities on a nationwide manhunt that spanned from Franklin County to Clarendon County, S.C. to Roanoke. He was eventually arrested at his mother’s Franklin County home, where he allegedly shot and killed her boyfriend, Rodney Brown, on Nov. 9, 2019.

His trial was originally set for mid-December; however, the court submitted plans to try to make that happen amidst ongoing COVID restrictions, but those were denied.

They’ve now submitted revised plans, but the judge didn’t think they’d hear back in time to pull off a trial just a few weeks from now.

Brown’s attorney, Deborah Caldwell-Bono, has voiced her concerns over Brown’s right to a speedy trial.

“It’s kind of like a thing that we used to cling to finally, but these days it just doesn’t figure into the equation. So it seems like the public health is the overriding concern, which I get but it would be nice to have a fast trial,” said Caldwell-Bono.

As far as Brown’s COVID-19 diagnosis, we’re told he’s mostly asymptomatic, other than losing his sense of smell and taste.

As as far as the second piece, the push for a jury trial, Caldwell-Bono explained, “I trust Juries. I have a lot of faith in juries. Not that I don’t also trust judges, but I just think this is the right case for a jury.”

While the trial is now pushed back to March, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Franklin County suggested that any pretrial matters be discussed on Dec. 14.

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