Former EH man, now paraplegic, convicted of 2008 murder

Mar. 17—A jury on Friday afternoon convicted a former East Hartford man who has been confined to a wheelchair for almost 15 years of murder in a fatal shooting that occurred after a downtown Hartford concert eight days before the fusillade of gunfire that caused his own disabling injuries.


DEFENDANT: James Dexter Brown Jr., 33, who has lived with his mother in East Hartford

VICTIM: Kenny "Banga" Sullivan, 20, shot in Hartford on June 26, 2008

POSSIBLE SENTENCE: Between 25 and 60 years in prison

The conviction of James Dexter Brown Jr., 33, who is known as "Decky," brought an intense reaction from several of his friends and relatives in the courtroom gallery. Despite admonitions from Judge Nuala E. Droney before the 3 p.m. verdict to avoid outbursts in front of the jury, some spectators expressed anger, and others were in tears.

One man angrily and repeatedly called the case against Brown "weak." Judicial marshals ejected him from the courtroom, but he came back in, continued to speak out of turn, and was ejected a second time.

The marshals also ejected two other people for violating courtroom decorum.

Brown had been free on $1 million bond until the verdict. The judge raised the bond to $3 million, and the marshals took him into custody. A court clerk said minutes before the 5 p.m. courthouse closing time that Brown hadn't posted the increased bond.

The judge scheduled sentencing for June 16 in Hartford Superior Court, where the trial took place. Brown will face a prison sentence between 25 and 60 years.

After the verdict, one young woman wailed hysterically in the courthouse lobby and staircase.

Outside the courthouse, Brown's grandmother, Wanda Reynolds, said, "They got the wrong man."

Brown's lawyer, Robert P. Pickering, was out of town Friday, and another lawyer filled in for him. But Brown's family members got Pickering on the telephone, and Reynolds yelled angrily at him for failing to pin the shooting on the man she believes is guilty.

Turning back to a reporter, Reynolds highlighted the two prosecution witnesses who had been facing sentences of more than 10 years in prison in federal drug cases — but got only six and 13 months, respectively, after giving statements to police implicating Brown in the fatal shooting.

The shooting happened on Main Street in Hartford, in front of the lot where Dunkin' Donuts Park was later built, after a series of fights during a concert at the XL Center in downtown Hartford.

The man killed was Kenny "Banga" Sullivan, 20, who lived in the SAND apartment complex off northern Main Street in Hartford. He and other young men from that area were at odds with a group of young men from Bedford Street, which runs off Albany Avenue in Hartford.

Although Brown has lived with his mother in East Hartford, he was associated with the Bedford Street group.

A police detective's arrest warrant affidavit in the case refers to the two groups as "Sandz-Bridge" and "Money Green Bedroc," and calls them "street gangs." But prosecutor Robin Krawczyk called them "groups" in her final argument.

The arrest warrant affidavit, by Hartford police Detective Andrew T. Jacobson, describes statements from 11 witnesses, six of whom directly implicated Brown in the fatal shooting, through eyewitness accounts or descriptions of admissions he made later.

But the case proved much more difficult for prosecutors in the courtroom, as only one witness testified to the incriminating information in his statement. Three others said they didn't remember or denied the information in their statements, which were then read to the jury.

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