CHIPLEY — Tears and solemn hugs set the mood at the Washington County Courthouse when Lawrence Brown was found not guilty of the attempted murder in the second-degree in the Dec. 31, 2011, stabbing of Micah Taylor.
Brown, 61, a Holmes County resident, was accused of stabbing Taylor multiple times following an altercation.
The jury, which was comprised of two men and four women, took about 90 minutes to come to a verdict.
The jury could have found Brown guilty of lesser charges such as attempted murder in the third-degree or aggravated assault, but they returned a not guilty verdict instead.
Taylor eventually recovered from the attack and was one of the prosecution's witnesses. Brown did not testify during the trial.
Assistant State Attorney Shalla Jefcoat told the jurors in her closing arguments that Brown had stabbed Taylor from behind while Taylor fought with Caleb Brown, who was also at the scene.
“I want to thank you for the way you conducted yourself in court, and in total,” said 14th Judicial District Court Judge Chris Patterson, who presided over the three-day trial. “I appreciate the way you conducted yourself and the way the gallery conducted themselves during the trial.”
Dozens of Brown’s relatives filled half the courtroom’s benches, and after the verdict was read, a steady line of teary-eyed friends and relatives hugged Brown and congratulated him.
Brown, along with Caleb and Daniel Brown, had given Taylor, his girlfriend Kendra Dumas and her cousin Selena Cooper a ride home from the Thirsty Turtle after a evening of drinking, according to testimony. Taylor and Dumas began fighting, with Dumas punching Taylor in the face and the couple bit each other on the face.
During the squabble, the Browns got involved with the fight. At one point, Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived to investigate reports of a loud argument, but no one was arrested.
According to testimony, after the Browns squared off with Taylor, they got into their vehicle and left with the girls.
Around 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2012, Taylor’s uncle Randall Taylor called 911 to report the stabbing.
Defense Attorney David Thomas of Defuniak Springs noted during closing arguments that there were no witnesses to the stabbing, with Taylor testifying that he couldn’t see who was stabbing him, but he identified that individual as Lawrence Brown based on the shape of his assailant’s body and his voice.
He also noted that Dumas testified that Taylor was “madder than she had ever seen him” that evening, and that Taylor was known for carrying a knife similar to a box opener.
No knives were recovered at the crime scene nor were any submitted into evidence, Thomas said.
Thomas also pointed to discrepancies in Taylor’s statements to police, lawyers and his doctor to suggest that Taylor was dishonest in his claim that Brown stabbed him.
“He claims he remembers better now than he did when the incident occurred,” Thomas said. “There was nothing in his injuries that would have affected his memory.”