By Cristina Janney
Two former McPherson College students were bound over for trial Monday in the case of the murder of a Tabor College student.
Alton Franklin and Dequinte Flournoy were bound over Thursday in McPherson County District Court on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the September 2012 death of Tabor College football player Brandon Brown.
The incident stemmed from an altercation in the early morning hours of Sept. 16 at an off-campus party involving members of the Tabor College and McPherson College football teams.
The Tabor students had been asked to leave a party at 438 N. Carrie, the house of a McPherson College football player DeMarcus Trotter. The Tabor students refused to leave and had to be pushed out the front door.
As the Tabor students were leaving the house, witness and former McPherson College football player Taajon Richardson said he saw an open pocket knife in Brandon Brown’s hand.
The preliminary hearing in this case was continued from Jan. 21 so Richardson could be located to testify.
Richardson testified a short time after the two Tabor students left the house, he saw lai Eteaki, also a Tabor College football player, throw a metal for-sale sign through the front window of the house.
The party emptied into the yard.
Trotter approached Eteaki to talk to him, Richardson said. When Brown started to walk toward Trotter and Eteaki, Franklin stepped in between Brown and the other two men, Richardson said.
Richardson testified he saw Franklin strike Brown in the face. Then he said he saw Flournoy hold Brown’s face to the ground and say, “Eat turf” and “Stay down.”
Franklin then struck Brown while he was on the ground two more times, Richardson said.
Police arrived on the scene shortly after and found a bleeding and unconscious Brown lying on the ground in the front yard of the house. Brown died at a Wichita hospital days later.
Although Richardson said he saw Brown with the knife at the door, he testified he did not see anything in Brown’s hands when he was standing in the yard before Franklin struck him.
A knife with smeared blood on the handle was found in the yard, but not next to Brown’s body, a McPherson Police officer testified on Jan. 21 before the preliminary hearing was continued.
Franklin’s defense attorney David Harger argued the two defendants were acting in self defense during the incident with Brown, noting Brown had been seen with a knife.
In his rebuttal, County Attorney David Page painted another story.
“At the time he was struck, Brown had nothing in his hands and was not aggressive,” Page said. “The defendant sucker punched him.”
The judge rejected the self-defense argument, as he ruled self-defense could not be used as a defense in a preliminary hearing.
Harger further argued Brown did not die from the beating but from alcohol poisoning.
Richardson said he had nothing to drink the night of the party, but had seen Brown and fellow Tabor student Eteaki sharing a bottle of the alcoholic drink Everclear. He said both students were noticeably drunk by the time they were asked to leave the party.
Pathologist Dr. Timothy Gorill testified earlier in the hearing, Brown’s blood alcohol level was .30 at the time he was admitted to the hospital — more than three times the legal limit allowed to drive.
“The testimony of the medical examiner was that ethanol was the cause of death,” Harger said. “That has nothing to do with either defendant. They are not responsible for it.”
Walker said he reviewed the earlier testimony in the case and found Gorill had said blunt force trauma to the head was Brown’s primary cause of death and alcohol had been a contributing factor.
Flournoy’s defense attorney Kevin Loeffler argued none of the state’s witnesses ever saw Flournoy strike Brown, but Richardson said he had only seen Flournoy “gently” push Brown’s head down.
The judge said by holding Brown down as Franklin struck him, Flournoy had aided Franklin in a criminal act. Therefore according to the law, he was just responsible for the act as Franklin.
Both defendants have been incarcerated since their arrests in September. Both defense attorneys asked the bonds for the defendants be dropped from $500,000 each to $10,000 each because of the former students limited resources. The judge agreed to drop the bonds to $250,000 each for both defendants.
The cases, at this point, are set to be tried separately. However, dates have not been set.
Defendants bound over for trial in Tabor murder
By Cristina Janney