Liberty County Superior Court Judge Jay Stewart set bond at $50,000 for Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jermaine Ray Mealy during a preliminary hearing Thursday morning in connection with the death of Nathaniel Brown in early June.
Mealy, 31, is facing a felony murder charge in the shooting of Brown during a scuffle inside Mealy’s home in the 500 block of Waverly Court.
Mealy, who is currently stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana, was attending military training in Texarkana, Texas, preparing to be transferred to Hunter Army Airfield in the near future. While in training, Mealy received a phone call from his wife informing him that their Hinesville home had been burglarized.
During the initial investigation, it was reported that Mealy drove home overnight to check on the well-being of his wife and home. Upon arrival, Mealy found Brown inside his home, a fight ensued and Brown was shot during the scuffle, police said.
Brown was transported to Liberty Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Hinesville police Investigator Gail Poulson testified during the Thursday hearing.
Atlantic Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Melissa Poole asked Poulson to go over the events the night before the shooting took place.
Poulson said she was at the house investigating the burglary. She said she returned to the home the following afternoon to investigate the shooting, and Mealy’s wife, Lisa Lynette Mealy, 45, had informed her that she had spoken to her husband about the burglary but said there would be no need for him to drive home. Poulson said Mealy had told her husband it made no sense to drive approximately 12-13 hours to just have to return to Texas within the next day. Poulson said Mealy had phoned her acquaintance of 10 years, Brown, who said he would come over to check the house and make sure she was safe.
Poulson testified that Brown had brought a gun over to the Mealy’s home and told her she would be safe if she kept it under her pillow and placed it there for her.
Tired from running daylong errands, Mealy allowed Brown to take a nap in her bed. Poulson said Jermaine Mealy arrived home and found Brown in his bed, clad only in his boxers. His wife was in the room, but Poulson testified that Lisa Mealy said she was not in bed with Brown and that she was fully dressed.
Jermaine Mealy and Brown scuffled, Poulson said, and Brown went for the gun. She said based on a statement from Lisa Mealy that both men fought for control of the gun and that she tried to break up the fight. The gun went off, and she backed away. The two men continued to fight and fell into the closet. At that time, Jermaine Mealy got control of the gun and fired at Brown.
Poulson testified that Mealy then walked into the kitchen, unjammed the gun, walked back into the bedroom and fired another shot at Brown. She said Mealy then walked back into the kitchen cleared the magazine clip from the gun and placed the gun and clip on the table.
During cross examination, Mealy’s attorney, Michael Schiavone, asked Poulson why DNA samples had not been collected from the bed sheets nor gun-residue samples taken from Brown’s hand to determine who first shot the gun during their initial struggle.
Schiavone asked whether Mealy was read his Miranda rights. Poulson said Hinesville police Maj. Thomas Cribbs, the chief of detectives, kept trying to read Mealy his rights but that Mealy kept talking over him, making statements, requesting a lawyer yet still talking about the incident.
“Basically, (Mealy) would not shut up,” Poulson said.
Stewart found that sufficient evidence merited moving forward with the charges.
During the part of the hearing to determine bond, Schiavone said his client is an upstanding military soldier who went home to check on the safety of his wife, found a man wearing nothing but his boxers in his own bed, in his own home, who then went for a gun when Mealy approached him.
Schiavone hinted that Lisa Mealy might not be stating the entire truth behind her relationship with Brown and that he is confident his client was acting in self-defense.
Stewart set bond at $50,000 with the condition that Jermaine Mealy have no contact with any witness in the case, including his wife.