Bledsoe detective; Brown wanted to confess to murders
PIKEVILLE, BLEDSOE COUNTY, TN (WRCB)-- A Bledsoe County detective says he came within inches of getting a jailhouse confession from Brenda Brown, in the murders of her mother-in-law and her mother in law's sister.
But her public defender prevented it.
Det. Ricky Seals testimony came during Brown's preliminary hearing Monday afternoon. Special Judge James McKenzie bound over the case for a grand jury November 28.
"I told her, Brenda you do have a lawyer," Seals testified. "She said yes, I do. But he doesn't have to live with it; I do."
Brown was charged with two counts of murder August 25; nine days after she claimed to have found the bodies of her mother-in-law, Elizabeth Brown, 82, and Elizabeth Brown's sister, Billie Sue Blalock, 79, in the elder Mrs. Brown's home. Both women had been shot to death.
Seals testified that Brown never denied killing the women, when detectives questioned her about the murders shortly before they arrested her.
"She told us 'I may have killed them, but I don't remember,'" Seals said.
Seals' testimony Monday confirms earlier reports that investigators built their case against Brown after recovering trash bags that, Seals maintains, Brown dropped off at the county's trash compactor.
Seals testified that the bags contained Ms. Blalock's checkbook and a shoe spattered with blood; a shoe he asserts was taken from the elder Mrs. Brown's home.
Further testimony revealed a possible motive for the murder.
"There was a discussion that Miss Elizabeth's will had been changed," Seals testified. The change effectively disinherited her daughter in favor of her son, Bill, Brenda Brown's husband.
Bill Brown served his wife divorce papers shortly after her arrest, according to court records.
She was unaware of the divorce petition when she first appeared in court August 26. The revelation prompted her to break down sobbing, and to request a public defender after then-presiding judge Howard Upchurch informed her that conflicts-of-interest precluded him from hearing her case or serving as her attorney.
Upchurch is representing Bill Brown in divorce proceedings, and prepared the changes to the elder Mrs. Brown's will.
By contrast, Brenda Brown showed no emotion in her preliminary hearing Monday. She avoided eye contact with witnesses, and said little to her attorney, Jeffrey Harmon.