The first day of Charles E. Brownlow Jr.’s murder trial on Wednesday featured another request by his Texas Regional Capital Public Defender’s team to delay the trial yet again, an attempted ban of cameras in the courtroom, no opening statements and a not guilty plea by reason of insanity.
Brownlow was indicted on capital murder charges in late 2013 for allegedly going on a more than five-hour murder spree in Terrell.
Brownlow, 36 at the time of his arrest, is accused of murdering his mother, 61-year-old Mary Brownlow at her Stallings Street home and setting her body on fire; his 55-year-old aunt, Belinda Young Walker, at her home on Tyler Street; Kelleye Lynette Pratt Sluder, 30, and Jason Michael Wooden, at their home on Eulalia Street; and Luis Gerardo Leal-Carillo, 22, at Ali’s Market on Moore Avenue.
It is Leal-Carillo’s murder for which Brownlow is being tried before 422nd District Court Judge B. Michael Chitty in Kaufman.
The trial is being held in the 86th District Court because of space limitations in the 422nd District Court.
The trial began as the case has been going all along — Maxwell Peck, a member of Brownlow’s defense team — asking for yet another continuance.
Peck said the team was not ready for trial and needed more time. Chitty denied that motion.
Then Chitty said no photography would be allowed during the trial. The Terrell Tribune objected to the exclusion of cameras while Peck vigorously argued to keep them out.
Peck told Chitty that having Brownlow photographed was prejudicial. The Tribune said Brownlow’s trial was similar in nature to the capital murder trial of since convicted Eric Lyle Williams, and photography and video coverage of that trial were allowed.
The Tribune also assured no pictures of the jury would be taken.
And Kaufman County District Attorney Erleigh Norville Wiley said though she was by no means representing the newspaper, the newspaper did have a constitutional right to be in the courtroom as well as to photograph the proceedings.
Chitty ruled that photography would be allowed as long as it was not disruptive and no pictures of the jury would be taken.
Neither the prosecution or the defense team gave opening statements. And Peck entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for Brownlow. He also positioned Brownlow so he was easily visible to the jury.
The jury heard testimony from several witnesses as well as saw video tape and pictures from Leal-Carillo’s murder at Ali’s Market.
When the video was shown, and the shots could be heard, one woman left the courtroom while two of the jurors covered their mouths.
Ali Karimi, who owns Ali’s Market, testified about how Leal-Carillo was like a son to him — an honest and obedient son.
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Thursday. See Saturday’s The Terrell Tribune for coverage of the trial.