Jury finds man guilty on five counts

June 26, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - After a judge read a jury's verdict aloud in court Friday evening, in which Brandon D. Green was found guilty of kidnapping and four other charges, one woman stood up angrily.

"You're wrong," the woman yelled, pointing toward jurors. "You're wrong. You know that, don't you?" Friends and bailiffs quickly escorted her out of the room.

Jurors found Green, 22, of Martinsburg, guilty of kidnapping, grand larceny, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit grand larceny and battery.


He was found innocent of conspiracy to commit malicious assault.

On the kidnapping charge, jurors recommended mercy, meaning Green will be eligible for a parole hearing after serving 15 years in prison. Had jurors not granted mercy, Green would have spent the rest of his life in prison without having a chance for parole.

"It's a sad day for Brandon, and his family are gravely disappointed," said Green's attorney, Kevin Mills. Speaking outside the courthouse after the verdict, Mills said he intended to go to his office to immediately begin preparing an appeal.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said she was pleased with the verdict and planned to call the victim to tell her. Misty Dawn Hyson, 25, could not attend the hearing because she had to go to work, Games-Neely said.

"The victim's vindicated here," she said.

The jurors - nine men and three women - deliberated for nine hours before reaching the verdict. They asked Circuit Judge David Sanders several questions and also had pizzas delivered for lunch.

One female juror was replaced with a male alternate after she realized late Thursday that she knew a member of Green's family. She was replaced Friday morning just before deliberations got under way.

Green stood and showed no visible reaction as Sanders read the verdict and pronounced him formally convicted of the five charges. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for Sept. 13.

Green was found guilty of battering Hyson on July 9, 2002, and putting her in the trunk of her Honda Accord. Hyson escaped after popping the trunk's internal release mechanism when the car turned around in the Interstate 70 median near Clear Spring.

Green, who did not testify during the trial, was arrested in Daytona Beach, Fla., on July 31, 2002. Hyson's car was found there the next day.

Aside from the one woman's outburst, the rest of Green's family members and friends abided by Sanders' order that they listen to the verdict in silence.

After the outburst, Sanders immediately announced that it would be treated as being in contempt of court.

When jurors shortly afterward were asked individually by name whether the verdict represented their feelings, a bailiff stood in front of the jury box, watching the crowd, his right hand on his holstered gun.

Mills hugged or shook hands with several members of Green's family and said the case has a number of appellate issues, including a typographical error in the jury instructions.

In the 18-page instructions, two definitions of the term kidnapping were given. One definition correctly used the word "or" - "did by force, threat, duress, fraud or enticement ... " - while the second definition used the word "and" - "did by force, threat and duress. ..."

The word "or" accidentally was changed to "and" in three other places in the second definition.

Although Mills said the error was enough to warrant a mistrial, his motion for one was denied. Instead, Sanders corrected the error and gave and read to jurors a revised version of that section of the instructions.

The jurors were the ones who noticed the discrepancy and brought it to Sanders' attention.

Other appellate issues include the fact that Hyson's car was processed by crime scene investigators in Florida, but then destroyed before it could be examined in West Virginia, Mills said.

Although Green's father declined to make a statement, the woman who yelled at jurors said she wanted to talk. The woman said she did not want to give her name, but identified herself as Green's aunt.

She said it was unfair that an all-white jury heard the case. Green is black.

The woman also called it unfair that Green must "take all of the blame," noting that two co-defendants in the case were offered and accepted plea bargains.

Daniel Herbert, 19, is serving a 20-year prison sentence for his involvement in the case, while Green's ex-girlfriend, Amber Crummitt, 22, is serving a 15-year sentence. Both testified against Green during the trial, which began Tuesday.

Police said Green and Herbert beat up Hyson, who was friends with Crummitt, so they could steal her car and $1,000 she was supposed to have with her for a down payment on a new car. Hyson was hospitalized for several days after the assault.

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