A Baton Rouge man accused of viciously beating another man with a wooden board and stabbing him 22 times was found guilty Friday of second-degree murder in the September 2013 slaying inside the abandoned half of a Wenonah Street duplex.
Jeremy Daniel Brown, 31, was convicted in the killing of Shaun Hartley by a 12-person East Baton Rouge Parish jury that deliberated about 90 minutes.
Hartley, 31, was a New Orleans native and Baton Rouge resident who prostituted himself in the Plank Road area of north Baton Rouge dressed as a woman.
Brown’s lead attorney, former Orleans Parish prosecutor Jerry Settle, accused the state in his closing arguments to the jury of not investigating Hartley’s murder as thoroughly as it should have because the victim was a prostitute and not someone more influential.
East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Dana Cummings, who helped prosecute the case, said afterward she found that assertion offensive.
“Baton Rouge city police, the State Police Crime Lab and the District Attorney’s Office value every victim’s life and devoted the same attention, resources and care as for every other victim,” she said.
Brown now faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison. State District Judge Chip Moore scheduled his sentencing June 27.
Hartley’s father, Marshall Hartley Sr., said Brown’s conviction won’t bring his son back.
Juanita Bates Washington, one of Shaun Hartley’s aunts, said the family prayed for God’s will and also prays that Brown “is somehow rehabilitated.”
“No one won today,” she added. “It’s a sad day for everybody.”
Shaun Hartley’s skull was fractured and he suffered bleeding on the brain, a broken jaw and cheekbone, and a punctured lung in addition to nearly two dozen stab wounds in the collarbone area on Sept. 12, 2013.
While wearing blue latex gloves and holding it in her hands, prosecutor Jessica Jarreau reminded the jury of nine women and three men earlier Friday that both Hartley’s blood and Brown’s DNA were found on a two-by-four inside the duplex that she described as the murder weapon.
A witness testified earlier in the week that an angry Brown, after complaining that Hartley had stolen his gun, asked the witness if he was a police officer before heading into the duplex with a board in his hand.
“You don’t ask someone if they’re the police if you’re going in to have coffee and cereal,” Jarreau told the jury in her closing argument.
Settle suggested to jurors that fellow prostitute Shingo Edwards, Hartley’s former roommate, or one of Edwards’ associates may have been responsible for Hartley’s killing. At the time of his death. Hartley was the state’s lone eyewitness in a fatal January 2013 shooting allegedly committed by Edwards. Hartley, who spent time in a local witness protection program, told police that Edwards had threatened to kill him if he told authorities about the shooting.
A second-degree murder charge against Edwards was dismissed after Hartley was slain.
Jarreau pointed out that Edwards was in jail at the time of Hartley’s murder and could not have killed him.
Prosecutor Larry McAlpine, who delivered the state’s opening statement Wednesday and questioned some witnesses, was absent Thursday and Friday because his father fell ill and was hospitalized.