On February 4, 2019, the New Jersey Supreme court decided the Mercer county case of State v. William D. Brown. Justice Solomon wrote for a unanimous Court. The principal issue was whether the State’s failure to produce nineteen discovery items until one week after the beginning of defendants’ murder trial deprived the accused of a fair trial.
Justice Solomon held in relevant part: The Court considers whether the State’s failure to produce nineteen discovery items until one week after the start of the trial of defendants William Brown and Nigil Dawson for the murder of Tracy Crews violated defendants’ due process rights under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). The Court’s Brady analysis requires review of two evidentiary rulings, made after the withheld evidence was provided to defendants, because those rulings circumscribed the evidence on which the State and defense were able to rely. Also at issue is the appropriate remedy for a Brady violation under the circumstances of this case.
In 2008, Crews was shot in his home. His wife, Sheena Robinson-Crews, asked him, “Who did this to you?” She claimed that her dying husband incriminated defendants. Police arrived, and Robinson-Crews made two phone calls within earshot of Detective Bolognini, who reported what he overheard to Detective Norton. Norton, in turn, swore in an affidavit (the Norton Affidavit) that Bolognini heard Robinson-Crews apparently call “whomever shot the victim” and say, “You got what you came for, you did not need to shoot him,” and then make a second call, in which she said, “Those boys did not have to shoot him. They got what they came for . . . .” Robinson-Crews later called Crews’s mother, Barbara Portis, and told her that Crews said “Paperboy and Youngin” had shot him. Robinson-Crews identified “Youngin” as Dawson and “Paperboy” as Brown. About two months after Crews’s death, Robinson-Crews filed a false police report against Brown saying he pointed a gun at her.
“Youngin’” is a common street name or alias among the younger members of a gang. “Paperboy” is likely a reference to someone who makes money or “paper”.