Court Cases I WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Vaughn Sentenced in Circle K Gang Shootout

UPDATED November 15, 2011 by Julie Montanaro

Darvaunta Vaughn was sentenced this afternoon for his role in a deadly gang shootout.

He had previously entered a no contest plea to felony murder in the death of Curtis Brown, an innocent bystander who was caught in the crossfire.

Today, prosecutors dropped that felony murder charge and sentenced him on two others instead.

Vaughn was sentenced to a total of eight years in prison for shooting into a building and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

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[UPDATE] November 14, 2011 - 5:45pm -

Earl Jackson has been sentenced to 20 years. He will get 3 years already served.

Jackson was sentenced for carrying a concealed weapon.

Jackson was initially accused of felony murder in this case, but the jury found him not guilty.

Jackson is one of five men arrested in a gang shootout at the Circle K on Lake Bradford Road back in March 2009. An innocent bystander, Curtis Brown, was shot and killed.

Two men have yet to stand trial, one has pleaded no contest to felony murder and will be sentenced tomorrow, and another was sentenced to probation for tampering with evidence in the case.

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[UPDATE] November 14, 2011 - 2pm -

Earl Jackson is set to be sentenced at 3pm in courtroom 2B.

Jackson is being sentenced for carrying a concealed weapon.

Jackson was initially accused of felony murder in this case, but the jury found him not guilty.

Jackson is one of five men arrested in a gang shootout at the Circle K on Lake Bradford Road back in March 2009. An innocent bystander, Curtis Brown, was shot and killed.

Two men have yet to stand trial, one has pleaded no contest to felony murder and will be sentenced tomorrow, and another was sentenced to probation for tampering with evidence in the case.
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UPDATED 10.28.2011 by Julie Montanaro

Darvaughnta Vaughn was scheduled to be sentenced this morning in a deadly gang shootout at the Circle K.

He entered a plea earlier this month to felony murder charges in the death of 26 year old Curtis Brown.

Today, attorneys agreed to postpone Vaughn's sentencing until November 15th. That's one day after the judge is set to sentence co-defendant Earl Jackson on concealed weapons charges.

Vaughn testified against Jackson at his trial.

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UPDATED 10.7.2011 7:15pm by Julie Montanaro

A juror in the Earl Jackson case says jurors did not buy the defense's claim that Jackson did not fire his gun that night.

The juror, who prefers to remain anonymous, explained the verdict like this:

"The evidence made it very clear that shots were fired in the direction of the defendant before he allegedly returned fire. We did find him guilty of unlawful possession of a concealed firearm; but because there was nothing in the applicable laws that said illegally being in possession of a concealed firearm precludes you from using that firearm to defend yourself, we all agreed that he was not guilty of the three more serious charges."

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UPDATED 10-7-2011 6:30pm by Julie Montanaro

A trio of not guilty verdicts will not stop the prosecution of two more men accused in a deadly gang shootout.

The state attorney vowed today to prosecute them to the fullest. And the woman whose son was gunned down that day at the Circle K is confident someone will be held accountable.

"I know that his bullet he did not kill Curtis."

Mary Brown was in court Thursday when a jury decided Earl Jackson wasn't guilty in her son's murder. She understands why the jury made that decision, but says someone must be held accountable for the death of her son, 26 year old Curtis Brown.

"Somebody killed him. One of their bullets hit him. I know that for a fact because he's dead today and somebody should pay," Brown said.

Jackson is one of five men accused in the gang shootout at the Circle K back in March 2009. Two have have yet to stand trial. Ion Cloud is accused of firing the shot that killed Brown. Tashawnbie Breyon Gay is accused of being part of the gun battle that cost Brown his life.

"There could be 200 people out there and nobody sees anything," State Attorney Willie Meggs said about witnesses' reluctance to talk.

The state attorney says that fear makes it very difficult to prosecute gang violence. He's disappointed in the Jackson verdict, but says he will vigorously pursue murder charges against Cloud and Gay.

"We're doing everything we know how to do to convict, prosecute and incarcerate documented gang members," Meggs said. "They're resolution to this is "Ya'll stay out of it, we'll take care of it." We can't have that. Innocent people get hurt when they decide to have a gunfight at McDonald's at four o'clock in the morning."

"With that many people out there, they should have had common sense to take it somewhere else," Mary Brown said. "My son would have been alive today."

Cloud has a court hearing later this month and Gay won't be in court again until January 2012. Mary Brown plans to be in court for both of their trials.

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UPDATED 10-6-2011 7:10pm by Julie Montanaro

A jury deliberated for an hour and a half before reaching a verdict in the trial of Earl Jackson.

Jackson was accused of felony murder in the death of innocent bystander Curtis Brown, attempted murder for firing at rival gang member Tashawnbie Breyon Gay, discharging a firearm in public and carrying a concealed firearm.

The jury found Jackson not guilty of the three most serious charges. It found him guilty only of carrying a concealed firearm.

Jackson's attorney Craig Brown admitted from the start that Jackson was carrying a gun that night, but said there was no proof that Jackson fired it. Apparently the jury agreed.

Jackson's parents did not get to the courthouse in time to hear the judge read the verdicts.

Afterward his dad said this experience "made a man" of him and he thinks it will prompt his son to make better decisions in the future. "I hope everybody makes better decisions," he said.

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UPDATE 10-6-2011 5:55pm

A jury has come to a verdict for Earl Jackson:

Guilty of carrying a concealed firearm

Not guilty of felony murder
Not-guilty of attempted murder
Not guilty of discharging a firearm in public

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OCTOBER 6, 2011 4:10pm by Julie Montanaro

A jury just started deliberating in the murder trial of Earl Jackson. We will keep you posted on a verdict.

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October 6 Noon - by Julie Montanaro

A jury will soon begin deliberating in a the trial involving a gang shootout that killed an innocent bystander.

Both the prosecution and the defense have wrapped up their cases and it looks like Earl Jackson will be awaiting a verdict as early as this afternoon.

Jackson is accused of felony murder in the death of 26-year-old Curtis Brown. Brown was caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout at a local Circle K in march 2009. Jackson told the judge this morning that he will not be testifying. The only witness called for the defense was a cashier who was working for Circle K. Tia Daley says two men came in and used the restroom , pushed customers out of their way on their way out of the store, and started firing when they got to the door. When asked if either of the men she saw shooting that night was in the courtroom today, she says no.

Attorneys are finalizing jury instruction and verdict form right now. closing arguments will be at 1pm. its possible the jury will begin deliberating by late afternoon.

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October 6 11:15am by Julie Montanaro

The defense has rested its case.

Attorneys are finalizing jury instructions and verdict forms. Attorneys will begin closing arguments at 1:00 this afternoon.

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October 6, 2011 11am by Julie Montanaro

The defense is now presenting its case.

Tia Daley is now testifying. She was a cashier at Circle K the night of the shootout.

She says two men walked out of the restroom and pushed customers out of the way as they left.

She says when they stepped on to the doorstep the shooting started. She said they fired first.

Daley says she was behind the counter about 6 feet from the door when the shooting started.

She pointed out two men in the surveillance video who she says fired the first shots. One man had on a purple shirt and the other had on a black shirt with jean shorts with green pockets.

When defense attorneys asked her if either of the men in the video was in the courtroom, she said no.
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October 6, 2011 by Julie Montanaro

The state has rested its case against Earl Jackson.

Jackson is accused of felony murder in the death of Curtis Brown. Prosecutors say he did not fire the fatal shot but was part of the gun battle that cost Brown his life.

He is also accused of attempted murder for firing on rival gang member Tashawnbie Breyon Gay.

Jackson's attorney asked the judge to acquit Jackson of the charges, arguing there is no proof he fired a gun that night, and no intent to kill Gay.

The judge ruled there is sufficient evidence to let the jury decide.

Jackson told the judge he will not be testifying.

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Oct 5, 2011 Noon -

The first man to stand trial for a deadly gang shootout is facing the judge and jury. Earl Jackson is one of the men accused of trading gunfire the night Curtis Brown was caught in the crossfire.

Earl Jackson is accused of trading gunfire with rival gang members in a shootout that killed an innocent bystander at the Circle K on Lake Bradford Road in march 2009.

Curtis Brown was shot and killed as he talked to his sisters that night. Today, his sister Choicey took the stand and describes opening up the car door after the shooting stopped, only to find her brother on the ground with "a hole in his head." Another friend testified she heard shots going back and forth over the roof of their car. It was coming from both sides, she said. Earl Jackson's attorney told the jury that Jackson was there that night and had a gun, but he says there is no proof that Jackson actually fired it.

Attorneys on both sides say surveillance video of the shootout will be the key to this case.
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Oct 5, 2011 11:20am

Christopher Harvey says he took the spent shells out of the gun and threw them in a ditch behind Whataburger.

Harvey says he later gave the gun to Darvaunta Vaughn. Vaughn entered a no contest plea to felony murder in this case last week.

On cross examination, Harvey said he saw Earl Jackson with a gun that night, but did not see Earl Jackson actually fire the gun.

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October 5, 2011 11am by Julie Montanaro

Christopher Harvey is now on the stand. He had been with Earl Jackson and some other friends tithe Mt. Zion Calypso Cafe earlier that night.

Harvey says when they got to Circle K they saw Tashawnbie Breyon Gay. He says the two had gotten into a fight about two weeks earlier.

Harvey says he went up to Gay expecting to fight. He says Gay then lifted his shirt up to reveal a gun. Harvey says he turned around and started running. He says a bullet went through the sleeve of his shirt but did not hit him.

Harvey says he saw Earl Jackson with his arm extended and admitted he saw Jackson holding a gun.

Harvey testified that Jackson was shot. He says as they ran across the parking lot to get in their car, Jackson fell to the ground and dropped his gun. Harvey says he picked up the gun.

Harvey has already entered a plea to tampering with evidence in the case. He was sentenced to four years on probation for it.

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October 5, 2011 10:30am by Julie Montanaro

Jasmine Harvey was in the car with Curtis Brown's sister that night.

She says she ducked down on the floor of the car when the shooting started.

She said there were a bunch of shots that sounded like they were
going back and forth over the roof of the car. "On both sides I am hearing shots fired."

She says when Choicey Brown got out of the car afterward, Curtis Brown "fell off her door."

He was still breathing, she said, "So I grabbed him and started to pray for him."

Jasmine Harvey says she is the cousin of Christopher Harvey. She says she did see him at the Circle K that night.

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October 5, 2011 10:10am by Julie Montanaro

Curtissa Butts was sitting in the front passenger seat of Choicey Brown's car that night. They are both Curtis Brown's sisters.

She says when the first round of shooting stopped, she got out out of the car and saw a man in a white t-shirt with a gun. She says she saw the flash of his gun. She says he was near the McDonalds door about two feet away.

Her brother "was laying there helpless and I couldn't do nothing."

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October 5, 2011 10am by Julie Montanaro

Choicey Brown is now on the stand. She is Curtis Brown's sister.

Choicey Brown says she was sitting in the driver seat of her car that night and her brother was leaning over her window talking when the shooting started.

She says her brother fell to the ground and when she got out to see if he was okay he "had a hole in his head" and blood was coming from his nose.

"It was so many shots. I couldn't count," Choicey Brown said. Brown says she saw flashes of fire near the McDonald's drive thru.

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October 5, 2011 9:45 pm

A former Leon County sheriff's deputy was parked near the corner of Airport and Eppes that night.

Adam Wilkinson, who is now a deputy U.S. Marshal, says at first he heard what he thought was the sound of fireworks.

Wilkinson says then he heard 20 to 30 more pops and knew it was gunfire. Wilkinson said when he got to the Circle K cars were peeling out of the parking lot and people were running and screaming.

Wilkinson says he saw Curtis Brown on the ground with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his head.

Wilkinson said he got his first aid kit and tried to help Brown until paramedics arrived, but Brown died.

The paramedic said Brown was dead when they got there.
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October 5, 2011 9:30am by Julie Montanaro

Earl Jackson's attorney admits Jackson was at the Circle K that night and did have a gun, but says Jackson never fired it.

Defense attorney Craig Brown says Jackson tried to intervene twice to break up a dispute between his friend Chris Harvey and rival gang member Tashawnbie Breyon Gay. Brown says when Gay pulled up his shirt and showed a gun, both Jackson and Harvey ran.

The defense attorney says Jackson was shot in the groin and never had time to fire his gun.

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October 5, 2011 by Julie Montanaro

The jury has just been sworn in for the murder trial of 21 year old Earl Jackson.

Jackson is accused of killing innocent bystander Curtis Brown during a shootout with rival gang members at the Circle K on Lake Bradford Road back in March 2009.

Prosecutor John Hutchins told the jury that the deadly shootout was "mutual combat."

"Bullets don't have names," Hutchins said.

Hutchins says there is surveillance video of the shootout.

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UPDATED 10.3.2011 by Julie Montanaro

A jury will soon hear the details of a Tallahassee gang shootout that left an innocent bystander dead.

Earl Jackson is one of five men accused in the shootout and so far, the only one to stand trial. Attorneys in the case chose six jurors and an alternate juror today.

Testimony is expected to start on Wednesday.

Jackson is accused of murder in the death of 26 year old Curtis Brown. Brown got caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout at the Circle K on Lake Bradford Road back in March 2009.

Two other men have already entered pleas in the case and two more have yet to stand trial.

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October 3, 2011 by WCTV

Jury selection is scheduled to begin today for a fatal shooting that happened in Tallahassee in 2009. Curtis Brown was shot and killed as he talked to his sister that night in march 2009. Deputies say Brown was caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout at the Circle K on Lake Bradford Road. Ion Cloud, Earl Jackson, Darvaughnta Vaughn, Tashawnbie Gay and Chris Harvey are all facing charges for it.

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September 30, 2011 by Julie Montanaro

A gang shootout that left an innocent bystander dead will play out in front of a jury next week.

But only one of the five men accused in the Circle K murder will face the judge.

Two of the men accused in the shootout entered pleas this week.

Darvaunta Vaughn entered a no contest plea this afternoon to felony murder, shooting into a building and discharging a firearm in public. He'll be sentenced October 28th.

Christopher Harvey - who was accused of picking up a gun and trying to hide it - entered a plea earlier this week to tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to four years on probation and 20 days in the sheriff's work camp.

Accused triggerman Ion Cloud still has some legal issues to resolve.

Tashawnbie Gay intends to argue he's immune from prosecution under the state's stand your ground law.

That means Earl Jackson will stand trial alone next week for a deadly shootout at the Circle K on Lake Bradford Road back in March 2009.

Innocent bystander Curtis Brown was caught in the crossfire from rival gangs that night and killed.


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