Great Falls man accused in '03 killing goes on trial

CHESTER -- A trial starts today for the Great Falls man accused of shooting a 24-year-old man four years ago in a nightclub parking lot.

A jury of six men and six women will determine the fate of Shawn Dewayne Wilson for his role in the shooting death of Charlie Ray "Juicy" Brown Jr.

A pretrial motion begins at 9:15 a.m., with testimony scheduled for 10 a.m. in Judge Brooks Goldsmith's Chester courtroom.

Wilson, who smiled often during court on Tuesday, is represented by Jack Swerling of Columbia.

The charges against Wilson stem from an incident on June 28, 2003. Police say Wilson, then 25, shot Brown in the stomach at The Talk of the Town bar and grill on Chester Avenue in Great Falls. Brown was taken to Chester Regional Medical Center, where he later died.

Lawrence Olander Thigpen, a second victim, was standing on his front porch across the street from the club. The Great Falls man was hit by a stray bullet.

Wilson was charged with murder, assault and battery with intent to kill and possession of a weapon during a violent crime, Goldsmith said. The combined charges could carry life in prison, Assistant Solicitor Chris Taylor said after court.

Bond was originally denied for Wilson after attorneys argued that his release might trigger more violence. Later, circuit court Judge Paul Short granted a $125,000 bond with electronic monitoring and house arrest. In January 2005, Wilson was arrested on an assault and battery charge for violating the terms of his release, and his bond was revoked.

The shooting sparked fights among 50 to 100 people at the bar and grill and another neighborhood club. Immediately after Brown's death, state, county and local police used bloodhounds and helicopters to patrol Great Falls as a way to prevent more violence.

While some referred to the fights as a "race riot," officials have said they will prosecute the shooting as a criminal matter rather than a racial incident.

Wilson remained in custody Tuesday night at the Chester County Detention Center.