IOWA CITY (AP) — A jury convicted a man Tuesday of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of another man in Iowa City last year, after prosecutors relied on witness testimony to make their case due to a lack of physical evidence.
The Johnson County jury deliberated for about four hours before returning its verdict in the trial of Brandon D. Brown, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. The family of the victim, Donelle Derrell Lindsey, cheered and wept when the verdict was read.
“We thank Johnson County for justice,” said Vance Dillon, Lindsey’s step-father. “Justice, that’s all I got to say. It’s over, it’s closure.”
Brown, 28, didn’t testify during his trial. He was escorted out of the courtroom immediately after the verdict.
Without physical evidence such as the murder weapon or bullet casings to present as evidence, prosecutors relied on the testimony of people who said they witnessed the attack.
“Iowa City can be and is fair to criminal defense,” said Assistant Johnson County attorney Dana Christiansen.
Defense attorneys, meanwhile, questioned the discrepancies in the witness testimony. One witness said Brown and Lindsey knew each other, while another said they didn’t. They also questioned the lack of physical evidence tying Brown to the killing.
“There’s not one strand of physical evidence that ties Mr. Brown to this crime,” said Linn County Public Defender Brian Sissel during closing arguments. “There are lots of unanswered questions in this case, and all we can rely on is witnesses the state has called on ... who have been lying and misleading this whole trial, this whole investigation.”
Christiansen explained that it’s not uncommon for people who witness the same traumatic event to recall small details differently.
Sissel also criticized the men and a third witness for not reaching out to police after the shooting. Christiansen said such behavior following a traumatic or violent incident doesn’t make a witness a liar.
“Just because people have difficulty talking to police about it, doesn’t mean it’s not true. What it means is it’s hard to say,” he said.