Convicted Killer: ‘I Blacked Out’
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A jury returned a guilty verdict Wednesday afternoon for a Wendy’s employee convicted of killing one of his co-workers in June 2009.
Thomas Brown, 29, was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of 22-year-old Juanese Miller at the fast-food restaurant on St. Johns Bluff Road.
Brown talked to Channel 4′s Hailey Winslow as he walked out of the courtroom after the trial.
“I feel good. I think I got a fair trial,” Brown said. “I don’t remember doing anything. They wouldn’t allow for my mental health issue to be stated to the media.”
“Due to my mental health history and not being on my medication, I blacked out,” Brown said of the killing. “Hopefully, if the law does what justice should be, I’ll come back on a retrial and get what I rightfully deserve, which is help.”
Brown said he wanted to take the stand but never got the chance to.
“According to my lawyers, they felt like that wasn’t a good thing to do,” he said.
Brown also had a message for Miller’s family.
“I’m sorry. I’m very remorseful,” he said.
Prosecutors said Brown and Miller had a fight at work, prompting Brown to go home, get a gun and then return to work around lunchtime, shooting the young mother four times from behind and killing her. Prosecutors said Brown had a vendetta against Miller.
Prosecutors said after the shooting, Brown said, “I told you I’d kill you.”
Prosecutors called 17 witnesses during the trial. The defense called none.
Shayla Mosley, a shift manager at the time, said she heard the gunfire, and that several shots were fired.
Prosecutors said Brown and Miller didn’t get along because Miller was picking on him. They said Brown took the issue to management, but neither was reprimanded. Several employees testified that the two fought publicly.
Defense attorneys said Brown’s hours had suddenly been cut. Witnesses testified that the day of the shooting, Brown got into a heated argument with the manager and was asked to leave. Prosecutors said he came back with a gun under his shirt and went straight for Miller.
Defense attorneys argued that the killing was not premeditated but was in the heat of the moment.
Brown was arrested at a Northside hotel the next day after a manhunt. Prosecutors said investigators found the weapon and bullets in his room. They said they also found a notebook in Brown’s car in which he wrote an account of the killing.
Defense attorneys said the job meant a lot to Brown. They said he was slow-learning and found it difficult to keep up, and they said the job was important to him.
Brown’s lawyers have claimed he is mentally disabled and shouldn’t be subject to the death penalty. Brown’s mother said her son suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and has a long history of mental illness.
The restaurant, which was on St. Johns Bluff Road, has since shut down and its windows have been boarded up after what prosecutors said happened between the two co-workers.
Miller had only worked at Wendy’s for a few months and was working to support her 3-year-old daughter.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 14.