Judge denies defense motion for mistrial in 2015 Mother's Day murder case

Kedena Brown, 36, of North Charleston (Source: Brown's family)
Kedena Brown, 36, of North Charleston (Source: Brown's family)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Testimony wrapped Wednesday afternoon in the second day of a murder trial for the man charged in a deadly Mother's Day shooting in 2015.

Kenneth Robinson is charged in the death of Kedena Brown on Mother's Day of 2015. Robinson, Jr., now 18, was just 15 at the time of the shooting and faces one count of murder and four counts of attempted murder. He was initially charged as a juvenile, but a judge later decided he should be tried as an adult.

Brown, 36, of North Charleston, was struck by gunfire while driving her silver Chrysler 300 in the area of Ashley Phosphate and Northwoods Boulevard in the early morning hours of May 10, 2015, North Charleston Police say.

One of the primary witnesses prosecutors will call against Robinson is a man named Richard Simmons, who previously pleaded guilty in January to Brown's murder.

Police say Simmons was the driver of the car that was chasing a silver Chrysler 300 in the early morning hours of the day of the shooting. Simmons said he was following another car that started shooting at the Chrysler until eventually he took over the lead and sped after the car not knowing who was inside.

At some point, Simmons says he lost sight of the 300, but then came across another one near the I-26 overpass. He testified he took the gun out of Robinson's hand, fire shots into the driver's side window and then took off.

Simmons went on to say at the time he thought he had the car they were chasing. It wasn't until later that he learned it was a case of mistaken identity and that Brown had been shot.

Originally when questioned by prosecutors in 2016, he told them Robinson was the one who did the shooting. He testified he said those things because he felt that Robinson had snitched on him.

Also on Wednesday, the defense asked for a mistrial because they weren't informed arrest warrants went out Saturday for a man named Kelly Green in connection with the case. The defense said that because they weren't informed of these warrants, they were not able to effectively cross-examine some of the witnesses.

The judge denied the motion for a mistrial, saying the defense could bring back the witnesses for more testimony.

Earlier in the day, the state played a nearly two-hour video of Robinson recorded on May 14, 2015, just days after Brown's death.

In the video, Robinson told North Charleston investigator Robert Bailey about a shooting that happened just after midnight on May 10, 2015. Robinson told police he went with his mother and sister to his aunt's house and stayed there until about 3 a.m.

Robinson told investigators he was wearing an ankle monitor and said he stayed at his aunt's home during the time of the shooting. Bailey asked in the video if Robinson believes the ankle monitor is accurate and Robinson responded that he thought it was.

Bailey testified that GPS coordinates placed Robinson in the area where the shooting of Brown happened early that morning.

Robinson was shown in the video disputing police claims that that GPS picked up Robinson on Gary Drive in North Charleston traveling at a speed of 110 mph. Robinson told investigators that wasn't possible, saying he was with his mother the entire time.

He also said in the video he was in a car with his mother.

Robinson told detectives he knew nothing when Bailey and another man ask why they were going so fast and if they were being chased.

At one point in the video, Bailey said, "I want the damn truth," and told Robinson he had other witnesses who saw what happened.

"If you weren't involved with it, you were in the car with them," Bailey said to Robinson in the video.

As the video continued, Robinson began talking about a chase and who was in the car with him and says gunfire was exchanged between the cars during a chase.

"I'm not responsible," Robinson said in the video and said he did not have a gun in the car with him.

Bailey told Robinson GPS showed Robinson was in the exact location when Brown was fatally wounded, but Robinson said he did not know who shot her. Bailey said Robinson could face murder charges because "the hand of one is the hand of all."

Bailey said Robinson gave three different accounts to where he was on the morning in question.

The defense will cross-examine Simmons on Thursday and a second man allegedly involved in the chase and shooting is also expected to testify.

Prosecutor: Gang activity led to fatal shooting

On Tuesday, lead prosecutor Culver Kidd said a gang retaliation lead to Brown's death. He says Brown's death was a case of mistaken identity. She was driving a car similar to the one prosecutors say Robinson and his co-defendants were chasing, he said.

Robinson's attorney says her client tried to warn the driver it was the wrong car, but in the end, she says it was the driver who pulled the trigger, not Robinson.

Prosecutors say according to state law, he's still accountable for those actions.

"When you engage in a running gun battle through major thoroughfares in Charleston, South Carolina – Dorchester Road, Ashley Phosphate – in an excess of 100 miles per hour, shooting the whole way, you are responsible for every single bullet that comes out of that car, whether it's yours or your co-defendants," Kidd said.

The police report stated officers responded to the area of I-26 near mile marker 210 in reference to vehicles shooting at one another. Officers say upon arrival a felony car stop was underway by other officers.

Court documents state at approximately 1:40 a.m. on May 10, 2015, Brown was driving on Ashley Phosphate Road towards I-26. Prior to the intersection of Ashley Phosphate Road and Northwoods Boulevard, a dark blue colored vehicle came along the driver's side of Brown's SUV, the affidavit states. Shots were fired at Brown's vehicle, striking her in the neck and head.

Brown was later found shot inside her vehicle at the Exxon Station in the 2300 block of Ashley Phosphate Road. She was hospitalized and later died from her injuries.

Investigators state a confidential informant identified Robinson's involvement in the chase and shooting.

Kidd said Robinson was one of eight people riding in three different cars during that chase.

Robinson's attorney, Megan Ehrlich, filed a motion to remand the case to family court stating her client's actions should not be decided in circuit court. She added Robinson was the youngest person allegedly involved in the incident, and since then another person has come forward pleading guilty being the triggerman, killing Brown.

Prosecutors confirm a co-defendant has pleaded guilty but said this doesn't cancel out Robinson's actions.

"This all stimulated from the gang wars going on inside the Dorchester Waylyn neighborhood," Kidd said. "The circumstances haven't really changed. We've gained information from the statements that we're relying on. Both of those witnesses put a gun in Kenneth Robinson's hand, and put him firing a gun during that car chase. It just wasn't his bullet that killed the victim."

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