A Sedgwick County jury began deliberations Friday in the double-murder trial of a Wichita man suspected of taking part in the city’s first two homicides of 2013.
Jerone Hakien Brown, 20, is charged in the January shooting deaths of Shawn Rhone and Adji Tampone. His brother Shawn Malek Brown, 21, is facing the same charges and is scheduled to stand trial Jan. 21.
Prosecutors said Tampone, 29, was killed in his home in the 700 block of South Rutan because of a drug debt he owed to Shawn Brown. They said Rhone, 42, was shot after being lured to a vacant house in the 1700 block of Northeast Parkway to sell some marijuana.
Prosecutors said the four men involved in Rhone’s killing drove to the scene of the crime in a 2003 gray Cadillac DeVille that was taken from Tampone’s house after he was killed.
After taking the car, prosecutors said, Shawn Brown uploaded a picture of the stolen car to his Facebook page with the caption “New Lac.”
A third Brown brother, Milo Brown, 22, was sentenced last week to life in prison after he was convicted in Rhone’s murder. Charges against a fourth suspect in that case, Myron L. Peters, 19, a cousin of the Browns, were dismissed in May as he was scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing.
Peters and Milo Brown were not charged with taking part in Tampone’s killing.
In her closing argument, defense lawyer Pamela Parker asked the jury not to judge Jerone Brown by the actions of his brothers.
“What we have here is a classic case of a younger sibling tagging along with his older brothers,” she said. “He is not a willing participant. What he is is a passenger in a runaway train.”
Parker didn’t contest prosecutors’ claims that Jerone Brown’s brothers were involved in the crimes.
“We’ve heard about Shawn and we’ve heard about Milo, but this isn’t their trial,” she said.
Prosecutor Trinity Muth said in his closing argument that Jerone Brown willingly accompanied his brother to Tampone’s house on the day he was killed.
“They went over there to settle drug debt, and when he didn’t have the money, Shawn Brown shot him in the back of the head,” Muth said.
Not long after that, Muth said, the brothers were plotting another crime.
“They came together to set up another drug deal,” he said. “Unfortunately for this defendant, unlawful distribution of drugs is an inherently dangerous felony.”
Under the state’s aiding-and-abetting law, Muth said, it doesn’t matter whether the defendant killed either victim.
“The state doesn’t have to prove that Jerone Brown pulled the trigger,” he said.
Jurors deliberated for about two hours Friday before adjourning for the weekend. They have asked to hear read-back testimony from a police detective and a jailhouse informant before they resume deliberations on Monday.
The trial is being held in the courtroom of District Judge Ben Burgess.