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Published: Friday, 5/4/2001

Case is dropped, but ex-inmate may not be clear

Danny Brown, right, talks with attorneys Jeff Gamso, left, and Jon Richardson outside the Lucas County common pleas courtroom where the case against him was dismissed. Danny Brown, right, talks with attorneys Jeff Gamso, left, and Jon Richardson outside the Lucas County common pleas courtroom where the case against him was dismissed.
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A 19-year-old murder case was dismissed yesterday and Danny Brown, once convicted of the crime, walked out of the Lucas County courthouse with no charges pending against him.

It is, however, “a dismissal with a cloud,” according to Mr. Brown's attorney, Jon Richardson, because prosecutors may try to indict his client again.

Julia Bates, Lucas County prosecutor, told Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Doneghy that the case is being re-investigated, “and we'll need considerable time” to determine the best course of action.

Mrs. Bates said Mr. Brown might again be a defendant in the rape and strangulation murder of Bobbie Russell in December, 1981.

“He may be with a co-defendant or someone else may be a defendant,” she said.

Mr. Brown was released from prison and a new trial was ordered after a DNA sample proved that he did not rape the victim and he passed a lie-detector test.

He was convicted largely on the testimony of Jeffery Russell, the then-6-year-old son of the victim.

He testified that Mr. Brown was alone when he hurt his mother, but had earlier told police that two men were in their Birmingham Terrace apartment when his mother was attacked.

The DNA sample from the attack on Ms. Russell was a match for Sherman Preston, 49, who is serving a life sentence for the 1983 rape and strangulation murder of Denise Howell.

Ms. Russell's son was reinterviewed recently and prosecutors said he insists that Mr. Brown, 45, was the perpetrator.

Among other things that will be investigated, prosecutors said, is whether Mr. Brown and Preston had any contact and could have been together at the time of the attack on Ms. Russell.

Mr. Brown said yesterday, as he has before, that he has never had any knowledge of Preston.

“They can look for other evidence as much as they want, but they won't find any,” he said.

Mr. Brown, who has maintained his innocence, said he has tried not to feel bitter, but is not pleased that the possibility of further prosecution is possible.

“It's there, over my head,” he said.

Mr. Brown said he hopes to be able to put the situation behind him and find a job.



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