Fredrick Brown is awaiting a jury's decision to see if his legal appeal, which got him in front of a jury to face the first of two first-degree murder charges, will give him a chance to leave prison early.
Attorneys on both sides finished their cases Thursday, the third day in Brown's trial in the 1991 slaying of Samuel Richard Scott. Brown, nicknamed "Bay Bay," pleaded guilty in 1993 to the killing of Scott and the shooting death of Corey Strickland, which happened while Brown was free on bond in the Scott case.
But because of a mistake in sentencing by then-Judge Douglas Meyer, Brown won an appeal for trials in both slayings. Another judge ruled that Meyer's sentencing of Brown to two consecutive life sentences was not allowed under Tennessee law.
Brown has spent nearly 20 years in prison, but his appeal is a risk because, if found guilty in both trials, he could receive two life sentences that will add at least 36 years to his original sentence.
For him to leave prison, the jury must either acquit him in both cases or convict him on lesser charges in both.
Earlier in the trial, prosecutors Lance Pope and Neal Pinkston centered on witness testimony that Brown said, "I told you I would do it, I told you I'd kill you" as he shot Scott seven times while chasing him to a vacant lot next to 3818 Alton Park Blvd.
Defense attorneys Donna and Lorrie Miller questioned if evidence collected from the scene reliably could be linked to their client.
Lorrie asked jurors to place themselves in the mind of Brown, who was 18 at the time of Scott's shooting.
Brown told his mother that Scott had robbed him at gunpoint weeks before and continued to threaten him in the days leading up to the shooting.
Brown never reported the robbery to police, a fact that Pinkston mentioned to jurors during his closing argument, a move to prove that Brown acted with premeditation, a required element of first-degree murder.
In a taped interview with then-Chattanooga police Detective Tim Carroll, Brown admitted he saw Scott working on a truck at the Alton Park Boulevard house and went to get a gun. He said he returned to retrieve his father's watch, which he said was stolen during the earlier robbery.
When he saw Scott reach into the truck, Brown told Carroll, he began firing.
He told Carroll he thought he only hit Scott in the leg, but a medical examiner testified there were seven bullet entry wounds in Scott's body, five in the back.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...