A unanimous Georgia Supreme Court has upheld the 2005 murder, kidnapping and burglary convictions of Justin Brown, one of four men involved in a violent home invasion robbery and murder resulting in the death of 18-year-old J.R. Morrow, according to Douglas County District Attorney David McDade.
According to McDade, the evidence at trial showed that J.R Morrow lived with his father, James Morrow, and Judy McClure at a home in Douglas County. Brown, a friend of J.R.’s, had been staying at the Morrow residence for several days, but was asked to leave on the morning of Oct. 15, 2002. Brown knew that there was a large amount of money in a safe in the Morrow house, having seen the safe’s contents when Mr. Morrow took money out to give to J.R. After he was asked to leave the Morrow house, Brown told Giovanni Little and Kevin Peoples that he wanted to rob J.R. Morrow. They devised a plan for Brown to commit the robbery while Little and Peoples distracted the occupants of the house.
That night, Mr. Morrow, Ms. McClure, and J.R. Morrow were all at home. Brown called the house from a nearby gas station pay phone and asked if J.R. was there. Mr. Morrow told the caller that his son was not at home, even though J.R. was actually asleep in his basement bedroom. A few minutes later, Brown, Little, and Kevin Peoples were driven to the Morrow house by Kevin’s younger brother, Byron. Brown, Little and Kevin Peoples exited the car and went to the house while Byron waited nearby in the car. Hearing noises on the front porch, Mr. Morrow went to the door. As he opened the door, one of the men reached inside and shot him in the shoulder. The men then rushed the door, knocking Mr. Morrow down. Once inside, one of the intruders shot Mr. Morrow in the leg and shot at Ms. McClure as she attempted to exit her bedroom upon hearing the commotion. Ms. McClure, who was not hit, was ordered by the gunman back into her bedroom and Mr. Morrow was moved at gunpoint to a back bathroom. Both Mr. Morrow and Ms. McClure identified Little as the man who shot at them and forced them into their respective rooms. While Little guarded the bedroom and bathroom doors, others went downstairs to the basement level where J.R. Morrow lived. Trapped in the bathroom, Mr. Morrow heard one of the intruders say, “I found him. I found him.” He also heard a gunshot that seemed to come from the basement. After hearing the intruders run out of the house, Mr. Morrow and Ms. McClure went to the basement where they found J.R. with a gunshot wound to the chest. J.R. died at the scene shortly thereafter.
The invaders fled the Morrow residence in the car driven by Byron. Later that night, Brown called his girlfriend, told her that two men had been shot, and asked her to lie about his whereabouts. Brown later confessed to police that he called the victims’ home that night and that he knew Little and Kevin Peoples were going to beat up and rob J.R. Morrow. Brown also confessed to police that he had been at the Morrow home that night.
A search warrant issued for the Peoples’ house led to the discovery of a .25 Colt pistol, consistent with the bullets used in the crimes. Additionally, several witnesses testified that in the days leading up to the home invasion Brown had talked to them about wanting to obtain a gun to make easy money robbing someone.
“Without any doubt this was one of the most violent and horrific cases I have ever prosecuted,” said McDade. “On behalf of the victims in this case I am thankful that the Supreme Court ruling puts the final nails in the coffin for these thugs who all deserve to die in prison for their crimes.”