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Brown not guilty
Story expanded Monday
KimDarden
Kim Brown thanks attorney Lenny Darden - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon

NotGuilty

“...find the defendant not guilty,” Clerk of Courts Barry Wilkes read aloud in a hushed courtroom as Liberty County Administrator Joey Brown was acquitted on one count of peeping tom and one count of invasion of privacy following a two-day trial that ended Friday afternoon in Liberty County Superior Court.
The verdict was unanimous and it took the jury about an hour to decide the state had not presented substantial evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.
Brown and his family wept tears of joy and the county administrator said he was ready to put the ordeal behind him.
“I’m just very happy right now,” Brown said. “I just want to spend some time with my family and I can now sleep at night without this hanging over my shoulders.”
His defense attorneys said they were confident from the start.
“We thought for sure that there was not enough evidence for a conviction,” lead defense attorney Joel Osteen said.
“The jury came back with the correct verdict based on the evidence and the law,” he said.

The shadow of doubt
Osteen was able to provide evidence for the jurors that showed there was another man inside the Sun-N-Side Tanning Salon’s room 7, Garth Landis, and a still unidentified person in room 11 that April 2006 morning.
Osteen said the defense was not accusing Landis or the unidentified person, but merely wanted the jury to understand there were other people in the salon that had the opportunity to enter room 10 after Brown left.
During testimony, Tiffany Green, an employee of the salon at the time, said Landis was in a room where the tanning bed is upright and very loud.
“If Landis would have opened the door to that room and I was at the front counter, I would hear him leave,” she said.
However Landis, who is a highly decorated soldier who served two tours in Iraq, testified that he left his room early because his skin started to burn. None of the employees reported seeing or hearing him leave during their testimony.
“I used a new tanning lotion that day and due to the high intensity of the tanning bed I started to burn,” Landis said. “I got dressed and left.”
Landis was transferred to Fort Jackson approximately a month later and was never contacted by anyone about the case until the defense council called him to ask about that day, a point the defense also used to suggest that the case was handled improperly by the Hinesville Police Department.
Ronald Adams, an assistant district attorney for the Eastern Judicial Circuit who prosecuted the case, said the defense was using Landis and the unidentified person as “rabbits” to distract the jurors from the real issue.
The jury was also shown photos of the top of the partition walls that showed fingerprints facing both directions over many of the walls, not just between rooms 9 and 10. During a cross examination of salon owner, William Freddie Vaughn, and HPD Det. Susie Jackson, both admitted there was no way of knowing who the prints belonged to or how long they had been up there.
Jackson also testified that the police department was unable to lift any discernable prints because of the amount of dust.
Osteen did not attack the testimony of the victim, Yvonne Tomlinson, but instead indicated that, due to only a partial view of the face and the brief seconds that eye contact was made, it was more of a case of mistaken identity than anything else.
“I’m not saying that she is lying. What I’m saying is that the someone who looked at her was not Joey Brown,” Osteen said.
Osteen and the defense team also comprised of Jay Osteen, Billy Jones, Lenny Darden and Kelly Davis spent several months preparing the defense and Osteen said it was a combined effort toward their goal of justice for Joey Brown.
“Osteen did a great job in defending this case,” Billy Jones said. “He worked on it for months. He did the opening and closing arguments of the case, crossed examined most of the witnesses and he understood the law and facts that related to this case.”
Brown’s wife, Kim, said she was happy it was over and that her family could now move forward. She said the case had been particularly hard on their children.
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