Murder hearing turns ugly

Published 10:15 pm Wednesday, February 23, 2011

By Hattie Francis

Special to the News-Herald

Family members of two murder suspects were escorted from a Courtland courtroom after an argument broke out during a Tuesday preliminary hearing.


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It all started after Bruce Boone, 18, of Suffolk — one of five men charged with killing Darrin Lee, 28, of Southampton Meadows Mobile Home Park on Oct. 7 — walked in to testify.

Boone was guided directly past suspect Rasheed Brown, 21, of Franklin, to the witness stand. Boone testified on Feb. 8 that Brown shot Lee in the head.

Boone smiled in Brown’s direction upon entering the courtroom, and Brown told him to “Quit smiling.” Members of both men’s families then began shouting at one another. All were removed from the courtroom.

Boone’s testimony on Tuesday remained identical to that of Feb. 8, with the exception of three statements. It was enough for a judge to certify the cases against Brown, Darrin Robinson, 20, of Suffolk, and Ernest Jones, 22, of Portsmouth, to Circuit Court.

On Feb. 8, Boone waived his right to a preliminary hearing, and a judge determined there was enough evidence against Shahon Cumbo, 21, of Franklin, for the case to continue.

Adding to his testimony from Feb. 8, Boone said in court on Tuesday that he had heard more than the one shot fired by Brown.

“I heard, like, two more shots,” he told the court.

Boone also testified that he heard the shots as he reached the woods behind Lee’s house after fleeing the scene. The origin of the shots was not identified during the hearing.

Boone also testified that Robinson attempted to persuade Boone to return to Robinson’s car to leave just as an unknown car flashed its lights toward Lee and Brown.

Within seconds, Brown had shot Lee in the back of the head, according to Boone’s testimony.

Southampton County Sheriff’s Det. Sgt. Wanda Covington testified that Lee was shot in the bottom right of the head, and the bullet exited in the upper left cheek area.

Lastly, it was revealed that Boone told Lt. J.R. Ricks that the suspects went to Lee’s home because he was allegedly a prominent drug dealer and they needed money.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Boone retracted that statement and testified that he lied to Ricks.

Boone testified that he was unaware of any reason for pursuing Lee until the abduction at Man Market when Brown instructed Lee to, according to Boone, “take them to everything he got.”