Teen pleads guilty in pizza delivery murder trial

Teen pleads guilty in pizza delivery murder trial
Published: Feb. 11, 2013 at 4:17 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 14, 2013 at 6:06 PM EST
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Davis (left) pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Brown (right).
Davis (left) pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Brown (right).
Birdsong was gunned down last March.
Birdsong was gunned down last March.

ST. GEORGE, SC (WCSC) - The teen accused of gunning down 20-year-old Maraleius Birdsong as he delivered pizza to a North Charleston apartment last March has pleaded guilty to the charges.

Stephawn Brown, 19, entered a guilty plea on Thursday morning.  Shortly before the plea was announced, family members were seen hugging Birdsong's mother.

Trial was expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, however lawyers and the judge stepped into chambers. Around 11 a.m., when everyone returned from chambers, Brown entered his guilty plea.

Court will resume at 10 a.m. Friday for sentencing.

The plea comes one day after Brown's attorneys asked for a mistrial, saying a gun residue report never came through their office. Within minutes, the attorneys realized they had seen the report and withdrew their motion.

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.

According to the technician, Brown's name was found on the application along with guns and ammunition belonging to Brown found near his apartment. Photos of the crime scene were also shown showing 9mm shell casings that were found several feet away from Birdsong.

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 the alleged shooter, 19-year-old Stephawn 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.

According to court documents, Davis called a witness just after the shooting and said Brown was the one who pulled the trigger.

When Davis took the stand Tuesday, he said the two suspects planned to rob someone that day, but no one in particular. He said it was Brown's plan to rob a pizza delivery man.

Davis told the court when he asked Brown why he shot Birdsong, Brown said he did it because Birdsong didn't give him his phone.

Prosecutors say Davis and Brown were together at the time of the shooting.

Authorities say Brown was found hiding in the back of his mother's car close to the crime scene in the Appian Way apartment complex on Patriot Boulevard in Dorchester County.

Davis surrendered to authorities later that month.

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.

(Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the defendant as Birdsong.  Live 5 News regrets the error.)

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