Pinehurst Man Pleads Guilty to Murder
Albert DeVonte "Von" Brown, of Pinehurst, will spend at least a dozen years in prison after pleading guilty to a murder that happened last year near Cameron.
By pleading to second-degree murder, Brown, 26, would not face the death penalty as he would have at a jury trial. On Thursday, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge James M. Webb sentenced Brown to serve 151 to 191 months in the prison as part of a plea bargain agreement.
Brown is one of three suspects originally charged with killing Jonathan Elee Grice last May. The state also charged Jessica Denise White, 24, and James Allen Hammond, 17, of Southern Pines with murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. White hanged herself in her jail cell last year. Hammond has yet to be tried.
Grice died last year sometime around May 21, 2007. His body was not discovered until two days later. Gregory Thompson called 911 to say Grice, who was his girlfriend's son, has been missing for days, according to a summary of evidence in the case offered in court by District Attorney Maureen Krueger.
Deputies went to 306 Baker Lane in Cameron looking for Grice. They did not find him. They did find a bloodstain on the living room carpet and signs that somebody had tried to clean it up, according to the evidence.
A search of the property led to the discovery of drag marks. Investigators followed them to a burn pile behind the house where they discovered Grice's body concealed in a blanket under burn pile debris. He had been shot once directly in the top of his head, apparently fired straight down while Grice was sitting in a bloody, charred chair also found in the burn pile.
At the time, investigators with the Moore County Sheriff's office said Grice was White's live-in boyfriend, but that she and Brown also had a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.
White had agreed to testify against Brown and was to have been the state's star witness in the case, according to the district attorney. Earlier on the day White killed herself, she had been out with investigators in the field cooperating in their ongoing murder investigation, according to Sheriff Lane Carter.
She had been in the county jail since her arrest on the same day deputies discovered Grice's body behind their Cameron home. Without White's testimony, the state relied on other evidence against Brown.
For more on the story, see Sunday's print edition of The Pilot.
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