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First Appearance of Man Accused in Beating Death

Publication:El Dorado News-Times; Date: Wednesday, January 04, 2006 ;
Section:Main; Page:1


Union County man accused in beating death of stepfather makes first appearance in district court

By KELI JACOBI News-Times Staff A Union County man accused in the New Year’s Day beating death of his 42-year-old stepfather made his first appearance in Union County District Court on Tuesday.

James Thornton Brown, 20, of 3822 Strong Highway, appeared subdued as District Judge George Van Hook Jr. informed the defendant of the state’s second-degree murder charges against him.

The charge carries a penalty of not less than six years nor greater than 20 years in prison and/or a fine not to exceed $15,000.

According to Union County Sheriff Ken Jones, Brown admitted he injured his stepfather, Robbie Fincher, during an altercation that occurred sometime Sunday afternoon. Brown struck the victim several times with his fists; the only other weapon apparently used during the clash was a plastic flashlight found broken at the crime scene, said Jones.

Fincher later died at Medical Center of South Arkansas from the injuries he had sustained.

Reviewing the certificate of indigence in which Brown indicated he lacked the resources to hire his own attorney, Van Hook noted an apparent discrepancy in income which he said prevented him from assigning a public defender to the case.

However, a Union County sheriff’s deputy who said she was familiar with Brown’s circumstances vouched for the defendant, saying he only brought home $50 a week, working part-time with a neighbor’s horses, and that he lived with his grandparents. In an unexpected move, local attorney Ron Griggs appeared at Brown’s side stating his intent to represent the defendant after Van Hook had already set a sheriff’s only bond at $50,000. Griggs apologized for his tardiness, explaining to Van Hook that he was told the first appearance was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

"You know what just happened, don’t you?" he asked his client, to which Brown nodded yes.

Griggs requested to meet further with Brown as he escorted him to an interview room at the Union County Jail. Brown has no criminal history, according to court records.

Also in district court on Tuesday, an El Dorado man with a string of Union County charges going back as far as 1987 made his first appearance on new charges. Prosecutors filed rape charges against Maurice Marbray, 34, on Dec. 31. A review of the Union County rap sheet on Marbray indicates a long list of prior charges against him, including robbery, burglary, arson, third-degree battery, hot check violations, theft of property and possession of a firearm by a certain person. "You’re going to be older than I am and just getting out of prison again,"

Van Hook told the defendant.

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