TUPELO – Two men accused in the 2007 murder of Travis Brown in Tupelo pleaded guilty today before Circuit Judge Thomas Gardner.
Attorneys for a third defendant, Christopher Hughes, lost their requests to have the trial moved from Lee County and the death penalty taken from the capital murder case as Hughes faces a May 11 trial.
Thursday, lead prosecutor Heather Joyner labeled him the man they believe fatally shot Brown the night of May 11, 2007, as Brown answered a knock at a friend’s door.
Co-defendants Jason B. Matthews and James D. Knowles pleaded guilty to lesser charges worked out in plea agreements with the District Attorney’ office in exchange for their truthful testimony at trial. Capital murder charges against them dismissed but could be reinstated, if they go back on their agreement.
Assistant District Attorney Joyner made sentence recommendations to Gardner, saying Brown’s mother was in agreement with the state’s requests.
Matthews pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact of an attempted armed robbery. Specifically, he lied to police investigators about the gun Hughes allegedly used to shoot Brown in what police have described as an armed robbery gone bad.
Gardner sentenced Matthews to 5 years in prison, a $1,000 fine and $100 fee to the Mississippi Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund.
Knowles pleaded guilty to attempted armed robbery and manslaughter. He admitted he carried a sledge hammer to the house on Magnolia Street, where they intended to rob a man.
He was sentenced on the attempted robbery charge to 30 years in prison, with 10 suspended, $2,000 fine, $4,500 repayment to the Mississippi Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund, which paid for Brown’s funeral, and $911.50 to Brown’s mother for the balance of the funeral cost.
On the manslaughter charge, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. That time will run on top of the other sentence.
Hughes’ trial is set for May 11, exactly two years to the day after Brown’s fatal shooting.
Three others were indicted with them on lesser charges. Any changes in their legal situations were not immediately known Thursday.
• Read Friday’s Daily Journal for more details.
Danza Johnson/Daily Journal