Teen triggerman in Birdsong murder sentenced to 49 years

Teen triggerman in Birdsong murder sentenced to 49 years
Davis (left) pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Brown (right).
Davis (left) pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Brown (right).

The teen who pleaded guilty to gunning down 20-year-old Maraleius Birdsong as he delivered food to a North Charleston apartment last March has been sentenced to 49 years behind bars.

Stephawn Brown, 19, faced a possible sentence of 45 to 50 years behind bars after pleading guilty Thursday morning to the murder of Birdsong. He was sentenced to 49 years for the murder of Birdsong, and 30 years for the robbery.  He will serve those sentenced concurrently.

Birdsong's mother, Teresa Gardner, addressed the court Friday before Brown's sentencing. Gardner said she misses her son every day, and that there are "consequences to everything we do."

"I do think justice was served here," Gardner said before the sentencing.

Prior to the sentencing, Dr. David Price, a psychologist, pointed to a number of issues that Brown dealt with leading up to the murder. The psychologist said Brown was a very poor student who had a comprehension ability between the 5th and 7th grade. Brown was also homeless at the time of the crime.

"He was in an abusive environment, hasn't been given clear guidance. He has been homeless and that tells the tale of Mr. Brown and his life struggles."

Brown's attorney asked the court Friday morning to give him the minimum sentence of 45 years, citing difficulties the 19-year-old endured during childhood.

Brown entered a guilty plea on Thursday morning after his lawyers' request for a mistrial was denied on Wednesday. Brown's attorneys said a gun residue report never came through their office. Within minutes, the attorneys realized they had seen the report and withdrew their motion.

Brown's decision to plead guilty was to avoid a sentence of life in prison, his lawyers said.

Also on Wednesday, a crime technician testified that an employment application, which was found along with two guns in a crawl space, had 19-year-old Brown's name on it.

Jontae Davis, 18, also accused in Birdsong's murder, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty. Davis entered the plea deal Tuesday morning just before opening arguments.

He pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and armed robbery. He was sentenced to 20 years on each charge, but will be allowed to serve them concurrently. As part of the plea, Davis agreed to testify against Brown.

Both teens are accused of murdering Maraelius Birdsong, who was shot in the back of the head "execution-style" while delivering a pizza to the Appian Way Apartments on March 9, 2012.

Authorities said Birdsong was going to a unit of the apartment complex on Patriot Drive after a person name "Tre" ordered a pizza. When Birdsong arrived, the resident of the home said that no order of food was placed but a person named "Tre" lived at another apartment.

Birdsong returned to his vehicle and was then shot, police said.

Both Birdsong and the murder suspects had attended Fort Dorchester High School. Davis was still enrolled at the school at the time of the shooting.

Birdsong was an organ donor, and lives have been saved because of that. Five of his organs were donated, saving the lives of four people, including his cousin in Indiana who was battling kidney disease.

Three other people in South Carolina received Gardner-Birdsong's other kidney, pancreas, liver and heart. Additionally, his donated corneas have allowed two people to see again.

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