Defendant claims he's immortal, boys not dead Brown testifies in trial, is accused of killing two

December 10, 1997|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Describing himself as a 3,729-year-old immortal being, Shawn E. Brown said on the witness stand yesterday that two boys he's accused of killing were strangled as part of an effort to gain information about male-female sexuality and other topics.

"I have to learn from mortals certain things," Brown told jurors in Baltimore Circuit Court yesterday. "If I fail, humanity is doomed."

The state has charged Brown with first-degree murder in the deaths of Marvin Wise, 8, and Obdul Richards, 16, early last year. Obdul was found strangled in a boarded-up Catholic school at Eager and Valley streets, and Marvin was found in a vacant apartment in Flag House Courts public housing, where Brown's sister lived.

Brown, 29, has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges. He says the boys are not dead, they have moved to "a better land."

Jurors are expected to return a verdict in the case today, after the prosecution and defense give closing arguments.

Brown's lawyers presented their entire defense yesterday with only one witness -- Brown.

His testimony was an apparent attempt to convince jurors that Brown -- who has been determined competent to stand trial -- did not intend to kill anyone. He drew a small crowd to Circuit Judge Joseph P. McCurdy's courtroom yesterday as he testified, with some people snickering and others sitting with bewildered looks as Brown spoke.

"One of the reasons I was sent here was to live as mortals live," said Brown, who told jurors that his spirit came into existence 3,700 years before the body he occupies was born.

Brown said that his mission stemmed from an assault during his youth, which caused the "child" inside of himself to die. At that time, Brown said, he became immortal and has undergone several tests, including searches for information about human sexuality.

During cross-examination, Mark Cohen, who is prosecuting the case, tried to get Brown to admit that he did kill the boys and did not simply carry out a divine mission. But Brown -- who served nine years in a New York prison for attempting to murder two other boys -- would not say that he killed them.

Cohen did get key testimony. "You did in fact strangle Obdul Richards and Marvin Wise?" Cohen asked.

"Yes," Brown said.

Pub Date: 12/10/97

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