Man who spent seven years in jail awaiting murder trial sues cit - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Man who spent seven years in jail awaiting murder trial sues city, Louisville police

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville man who spent more than seven years in prison awaiting trial for murder, rape, sodomy and kidnapping, among other charges, before having all of his cases dismissed, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming he was framed by several police officers.

Percy Brown, who was arrested in 2008 in connection with a 2004 shooting that killed 19-year-old Jennifer Nicole French, claims Louisville Metro Police officers "fabricated" evidence and then piled on additional "false charges" to keep him behind bars.

Brown and his attorneys argue he was "deprived of his liberty" and improperly incarcerated just the same as if prosecutors had "secured a wrongful conviction."

The murder case, in which police believed Brown shot and killed French because she was scheduled to testify against him in a fraud case, was dismissed last year. Prosecutors could not locate key witnesses, according to court records.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Cooke, a spokesman for the Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, said an "essential witness" could not be located and prosecutors asked a judge to postpone the case. When the judge denied the request, Cooke said prosecutors had no choice but to ask that the case be dismissed. 

"It was dismissed not because of any weakness in the case," Cooke said. "We anticipate this case could be re-indicted and prosecuted in the future."

But Chicago Attorney Elliot Slosar said in a statement that Brown was more than 70 miles away gambling at a casino when French was murdered. And he said there are Casino records, attached to the lawsuit, that prove it.

Prosecutors have said the records only prove that someone using Brown's casino card was there.

The statement also says there were "multiple eyewitnesses" to the French murder and other people were identified as suspects but police "ignored" that evidence to "frame" Brown.

In addition, separate rape and sodomy cases have been dismissed. Prosecutors said they were unable to locate witnesses in those cases, according to court records.

Brown was released from jail in April.

"Mr. Brown suffered a true injustice as he languished inside of a jail cell for nearly eight years because Louisville police officers kept fabricating evidence to keep him there," Slosar wrote in a press release.

The lawsuit seeks damages for malicious prosecution and fabrication of evidence against several Metro detectives and a University of Louisville Police Officer, Jerry Jewell. The LMPD officers named are: Michael Smithers, Kristen Downs, Roy Stalvey, Brian Kurigan, Keith Roberts, Gary Alcorn and David Sandford.

In addition, Lt. Barry Wilkerson, the former commander of the homicide unit, and his successor, Lt. Todd Kessinger are accused of negligent supervision and failure to intervene.

A police spokeswoman deferred to the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office for comment. The County Attorney’s Office does not comment on pending litigation. Metro Government is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court.

Brown’s murder case was pending for so many years, in part, a judge and prosecutor have said, because Brown has chased away multiple lawyers, firing some and threatening to kill others, repeatedly delaying the trial.

In total, Brown went through at least eight attorneys in the murder and other pending cases.

Brown denied that he threatened his attorneys, claiming Judge McKay Chauvin was "biased, unprofessional and reckless," according to court records.

Because of what Chauvin called Brown's "consistently irrational behavior," the judge ordered he be examined to see if he was competent to stand trial, according to court records. 

Brown was found competent.

Brown's sister, Vanessa Kelly, has told WDRB in the past that her brother was not guilty and had been locked up for years awaiting trial while prosecutors and defense attorneys conspired against him.

"I know he is not guilty," she said. "He is not capable" of murder.

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