06/15/05 — Brown will challenge '98 murder conviction

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Brown will challenge '98 murder conviction

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on June 15, 2005 1:45 PM

Paul Anthony Brown, who was sentenced to death for the fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend and a toddler in her Goldsboro apartment, is seeking a new trial.

Brown, now 39, was convicted April 8, 1998, and then sentenced on Aug. 11, 2000, by a different Wayne County Superior Court jury.

Brown contends in his motion for appropriate relief that the trial judge, Howard Manning of Durham, erred in splitting the trial into two parts. Brown also says he received ineffective counsel from his court-appointed lawyers, Glenn Barfield and Jean Hollowell of Goldsboro.

A post-conviction hearing is being held today in Wayne County Superior Court on Brown's motion. The hearing is expected to last several days.

Special Deputy Attorney General Barry S. McNeill and Assistant District Attorney Matt Delbridge, who prosecuted Brown, will represent the state. Brown will be represented by appellate lawyers.

Manning split the trial, because Brown had a pending appeal of a 1986 Virginia conviction for malicious maiming. If Brown's conviction was upheld, Manning ruled, then it could be used as an aggravating circumstance in his sentencing in Goldsboro. Barfield took on the appeal and argued that Brown had received ineffective counsel. The Virginia Supreme Court eventually upheld the conviction.

Witnesses said Brown had been robbed in Washington and left without money. Then he met a high school student who offered Brown $100 to beat up a teacher in Alexandria, Va. Brown was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was released in 1994 after serving eight years.

Brown he returned to Goldsboro, got jobs at Carolina Turkey in Mount Olive and later at Caterpillar in Clayton and was called a good worker. He earned a two-year degree at Wayne Community College and transferred to East Carolina University.

But on the night of Dec. 21, 1996, according to court testimony, he argued with his girlfriend, Latashonette "Tasha" Cox, after watching television and drinking daiquiris with her and a neighbor. After several earlier break-ups and reconciliations, Ms. Cox kicked him out of her Jefferson Court apartment.

Brown returned shortly after midnight with a handgun. Jessica Franklin, the neighbor and the mother of 18-month-old David Franklin, said she dosed in a living room chair but was awakened by screams and gunshots after Brown stormed into the apartment. She said he went into the bedroom, where Ms. Cox was sleeping with the toddler. He opened fire, striking the boy three times and Ms. Cox at least seven times, killing both.

Ms. Franklin said she ran to another apartment, where a neighbor called police. Ms. Franklin identified Brown as the shooter. The defendant fled to Virginia but returned and surrendered to Goldsboro police about 18 hours later. Officer Teresa Cox said Brown admitted that he could not believe that he also had shot the boy.