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[UPDATE] Verdict in for Elijah James

UPDATE 2-4 6:30pm

Georgia authorities have now hand-delivered all the evidence they had on Elijah James to the Leon County Sheriff's Office so it can proceed with its murder case.

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Updated 2-2 6:04pm

It took a jury just two hours to find Elijah James guilty of torching the car of missing woman Danielle Brown.

James was sentenced to 20 years in prison for arson and 10 years for bringing the stolen car from Florida to Georgia; which paves the way for him to be tried in Florida for murder.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents testified that burn marks weren't the only things found in missing woman Danielle Brown's torched car.

During day two of the arson trial of Brown's ex-boyfriend Elijah James, the agents say blood was found on the driver seat and the rear driver side door; and say it matched Brown's DNA.

The prosecutor says James torched the silver Buick Le Sabre to destroy evidence of Brown's disappearance.

James' sister and brother-in-law told the jury that James asked them to take him to Lowe's in Thomasville on February 6th--the day after she was last seen.

Brother-in-law Curtis Presley said, "I did see a chain saw, a gas can, a few other things. I'm pretty sure you have the receipt of what he got."

The store clerk testified that the other items James bought were: Hefty trash bags, a heavy duty sponge, a shovel, Windex, and carpet cleaner.

State Prosecutor Jim Prine said, "What evidence was he trying to destroy? Blood."

The jury agreed and found James guilty of arson and theft of Brown's car.

James' mother, Ira James, is not buying that he did it, nor that Brown may be dead.

Ms. James said, "I have not seen her. But, she was out there in Miccosukee. She done been to Miccosukee and different ones were telling me around the store, say she came in there."

James' sentences are to be served concurrently (at the same time,) meaning he will serve a total of 20 years.

Danielle Brown's family would not comment on camera, but did give us a statement: "This is the best news we've heard. We're elated at the verdict. This is the first hurdle we've had to overcome."

Prosecutor Jack Campbell says as soon as the paperwork is done in Thomas County, they will extradite James to Leon County to face murder charges in Brown's disappearance.

He says that could be days or weeks.

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UPDATED 2.2.2011 5:05pm by Julie Montanaro

Prosecutor Jack Campbell says as soon as the paperwork is done in Thomas County, they will extradite James to Leon County to face murder charges in Brown's disappearance. He says that could be days or weeks.

James was indicted for Brown's murder back in August 2010, even though her body has never been found.

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UPDATE 2-2-2011 5:03 pm

Nicole Brown Sheffield, Danielle Brown's sister, has released a statement on behalf of the family.

"This is the best news we've had. We're elated with the verdict. This is the first hurdle to overcome. We feel justified that he was convicted."

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UPDATED 2.2.2011 4:35pm

The judge sentenced James to 20 years in prison for arson and 10 years for theft. The terms are to be served concurrently (at the same time,) therefore, James will serve a total of only 20 years.

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UPDATED 2.2,2011 4:15pm

The jury found James guilty on both counts: arson and car theft.

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[UPDATED 2.2.2011 4:10pm

There is a verdict in the case. It will be announced momentarily.

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UPDATE] 2-2 2:17 pm

Closing arguments just wrapped up and the case has now been turned over to the jury for deliberation. A verdict is expected to be announced later today. WCTV continues to monitor the proceedings and will continue to update as more information becomes available.

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[UPDATE] 2-2 Noon --

The State has rested in the Elijah James Case. The Defense is expected to call witnesses after lunch. James has said that he will not take the stand in his own defense.

[UPDATE] 2-2 11:20AM --

Testimony from today:

Elijah James’ brother-in-law and sister testified about James coming over to their house Saturday and they are the ones who took him to Lowe’s to buy all of his supplies. They said they didn’t see him again until Monday, but he didn’t have Danielle’s car on Monday.

The FDLE agent who processes crime scenes testified about blood being found in the car inside the trunk and in the interior. Also, a gas nozzle was found in the car in a sponge.

That Sunday night, a man saw someone suspicious carrying bags, so he called the police. He testified, saying he saw James that night.

Stay with WCTV for updates from the courtroom.

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UPDATE 2-1 by Lanetra Bennett

Danielle Brown's father is the first to take the stand Tuesday. As he walked by Elijah James, he didn't even glance at the man on trial accused in the disappearance of his daughter. Brown's mother and sister did the same before testifying that Brown and James argued when they last saw her last February 5 at around 11:30 that Friday night.
James' cousin says James came to his house in Brown's car around 5 the next morning, offering to drive to the store for beer.

Solomon Mills, James' Cousin says, "He told me to hang on before I got in. He had the back driver's door open and he was moving some stuff around the back seat. He told me not get in right then."

Brown's car was found behind pile of debris in the Pavo, Georgia dump that Monday, The insides had been torched and tag, and VIN number were removed.

Clayton Odonel, Pavo city employee, says, "As I approached, I noticed I couldn't see through the windows.I opened the door and smelled gas and then called police."

Prosecutors say James was spotted buying gloves, carpet cleaner, windex, trash bags, a gas can, a shovel, and chain saw. The defense attorney says James uses those items as a tree doctor.

The prosecutor says the points of origin of the fire in Brown's car were in the back seat and near the glove compartment.

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[UPDATE] 2-1 3:30PM --

The trial is over for today, but will resume tomorrow at 9:30AM.

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[UPDATE] 2-1 Noon --

The trial is now underway for the man accused in the death of a Tallahassee woman, but today's trial is not for Danielle Brown's murder. Instead, the trial is an arson case connected to the crime.

Opening statements began this morning around 9:45. The prosecutor says he intends to convince the jury that Elijah James torched Danielle Brown's car to destroy evidence of her disappearance.

The first witness to take the stand was Danielle Brown's father. Brown was last seen at her home in Leon County last February 5th, and her car was found torched in the Pavo, Georgia dump three days later. Elijah James was indicted for arson and theft.
This morning, Brown's father, sister, and mother all testified that Brown never let anyone drive her car. Brown's sister and mother both said on the stand that the last time they saw her, Brown was arguing with boyfriend James about him having to move out, and say the couple drove off in her Buick with Danielle driving.

The defense says two other people were seen in the car and that they may have stolen it and burned it to cover up their theft. The defense also explains that the reason James bought a gas can and a chain saw is because he was a tree doctor and frequently use those items to climb trees for a living.

It is unclear how long the trial will last, but the prosecutor called out a witness list of about two dozen people.

We'll have more later on Eyewitness News.

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[UPDATE} 2-1 9:30AM --

Jury selection begins for Elijah James, charged with arson.

WCTV has a reporter in court. Stay with us for details

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UPDATED 1.10.2011 by Julie Montanaro

Elijah James is scheduled to stand trial for arson in Thomas County, Georgia on January 31st.

James has been indicted in Leon County, Florida for the murder of Danielle Brown, but authorities have not been able to find her body.

James is accused of setting Brown's car on fire the day after she disappeared and abandoning at a city dump in the small town of Pavo, Georgia, where James has family.

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UPDATED 12.6.2010 by Julie Montanaro

Elijah James will not stand trial for arson in Georgia until after the new year.

Prosecutor Jim Prine says James is not on the December docket, and the earliest he could stand trial is January 31st, 2011. Yet Prine stresses no specific trial date has been set.

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UPDATED 9.23.2010 by Julie Montanaro

The trial of a man accused of arson and murder in the disappearance of Daneille Brown has been postponed.

Elijah James was set to go on trial in Thomasville Monday for torching Brown's car and abandoning it at a city dump in Pavo.

Yet today, prosecutors say the trial was postponed indefinitely because some key witnesses were not available to testify.

The clock continues to run on James's speedy trial request, and prosecutor Jim Prine says there is no future date set yet for the trial.

Once the arson trial is over, James will stand trial for murder in Tallahassee even though Brown's body has never been found.

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A man accused in the disappearance and murder of Danielle Brown will stand trial for arson in Georgia first.

Brown disappeared back in February, her car was found burned and abandoned in Thomas County, Georgia soon afterward, but her body has never been found.

Ex-boyfriend Elijah James is in jail in Thomas County charged with arson and prosecutors say his trial is now set for September 27th.

Prosecutors in Tallahassee intend to bring James back to Florida and try him for Brown's murder after the Georgia arson case is finished.


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