Jury Must Decide if Homicide Defendant’s Text Shows A Plan to Flee

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On Sept. 7, during the ongoing trial of two homicide defendants, the prosecutor insinuated that a text message showed a homicide defendant’s intention to flee the area following a murder.

Christopher Brown, 22, and Daran Horton, 23, are charged with first and second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, manslaughter, first and second-degree assault, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault, reckless endangerment, use of a firearm during a felony violent crime, loaded handgun on person, illegal possession of a regulated firearm, and wearing/carrying a handgun on person in connection to the fatal shooting of Cordelle Bruce, 31, on the 1100 block of E. Belvedere Avenue. 

Brown is also charged with possession of a firearm as a minor. Horton is also charged with possession of a firearm.

“I’m not going back in the system, I am moving to W. Virginia,” Horton said in the text messages presented to the jury. 

During the trial, the victim’s girlfriend testified that she knew the victim for three years and knew he sold marijuana. She said as she was getting ready to leave her apartment to meet up with the victim for dinner when she heard at least 10 gunshots. After hearing the gunshots, she said she called the victim’s phone, but he did not answer. 

Prior to the shooting, the victim’s girlfriend said she saw Bruce walking through an alley with someone taller than him. She said she did not know what was discussed nor could she identify the other person the victim was with. 

After looking at surveillance footage, the detective said he only saw what led up to the murder.  The apartment building’s surveillance cameras were not operable, but the detective said he still followed up with the apartment complex regarding the footage. 

According to the detective, this was his first homicide as a primary detective. 

The detective also said five shell casings, two cellphones, two keys, and marijuana was collected from the scene. He said he attempted to go through the victim’s phone but was not able to get into it because newer model iPhones are harder to get in due to having better security unlike the older models. 

Throughout the course of the investigation, the detective said he came across three other suspects. However, six days after the murder of Bruce one of the suspects was found shot in the head. The suspect survived the shooting but was not questioned about Bruce’s murder while at the hospital.  

However, the detective said he was able to eliminate those three suspects because they all left the area prior to the incident. 

Following the elimination of the three suspects, the detective’s investigation led to Horton as another suspect. The detective testified that after collecting surveillance footage and reviewing it, he saw Horton on footage from an Exxon gas station with Brown. 

Hoton decided to speak with the police, saying he saw someone running towards his car, so he stopped his vehicle, which was a Black Volvo.

Horton also gave the detective permission to search his phone and social media accounts. 

Police were able to identify Brown, who went by the alias “lil C,” as a suspect while searching through Horton’s social media accounts.

In Brown’s interview with the detective, he identified himself in two different pictures taken of the scene. Brown also gave consent to have his phone searched, however, the phone that was searched was his little brother’s phone. 

After speaking to both Horton and Brown, the primary detective said he continued to monitor both defendants’ social media accounts prior to them going private. 

Horton and Brown’s trial is scheduled to resume before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Paul E. Alpert on Sept. 8.

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