Charges brought against 4 men in Marley Lion case

Bags of evidence were loaded up into police vehicles Monday (Dave McQueen/WCIV)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Charleston police chief Greg Mullen held a press conference Tuesday, announcing murder charges in the Marley Lion case on the same day the teen would have celebrated his 18th birthday.

A heavy police presence in the Ardmore neighborhood Monday resulted in several arrests and searches of several homes.

Officers were seen taking brown bags out of a blue house on Sequoia Street and putting them in the back of an SUV. That home was one of the homes connected to the murder investigation.

Chief Mullen took to the podium Tuesday with emotion clearly visible on his face and clearly heard in his voice. He announced that some of the men arrested on Monday, along with a man by the name of Ryan Deleston, will be charged in the murder case of Marley Lion.

According to an affidavit, Deleston is believed to be the shooter.

Mullen said investigators were led to Deleston after they got a tip that there was a suspect in possession of a firearm and he was interested in selling it.

About the suspects

NameChargesRyan DelestonMurder, attempted armed robbery, use of a deadly weapon during a violent crime and possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number.Bryan RiversMurder, attempted armed robbery, distribution of an imitation substance, possession of a firearm by a violent convicted felon and possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number.Julius BrownObstruction of justice, murder and attempted armed robbery.George BrownAccessory after the fact of murder and possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number.

According to Mullen, agents with ATF initiated an operation to buy the gun, and after several attempts, the gun was bought on July 15 from Ryan Deleston. The gun was then taken to SLED for analysis.That's when Mullen said police started watching the suspects from afar and identified several homes and vehicles connected to them.He said once the gun came back as being the one used to kill 17-year-old Marley Lion, a plan was put into place to apprehend the suspects. That operation was held on Monday.

Deleston is charged with murder, use of a weapon in a violent crime, attempted armed robbery, and possession of a weapon with an obliterated serial number. He's no stranger to law enforcement officials. His SLED rap sheet is a half-dozen pages long and includes charges related to drug possession, drug distribution, simple assault and resisting arrest. Mullen said 30-year-old Deleston was arrested as he exited a CARTA bus on Monday morning.

Also charged in the case is 27-year-old Bryan Rivers, who is facing charges of murder, attempted armed robbery and possession of a weapon with an obliterated serial number. Rivers' rap sheet is just as long as Deleston's. He has previous convictions of assault and battery, robbery and drug possession. Rivers was arrested on White Oak Drive Monday. According to an affidavit, Deleston said he and rivers passed the gun back and forth in preparation for an attempted armed robbery of Lion.

The third arrest in the case is the arrest of 32-year-old Julius Brown, who is charged with obstruction of justice, murder and attempted armed robbery. Julius Brown was also arrested on White Oak Drive on Monday. Investigators say Julius Brown provided a false alibi for Deleston. A search of the South Carolina sex offender database reveals Julius Brown was convicted in 2004 of criminal sexual conduct with a 16-year-old female. He was also charged in 2004 for the 2000 murder of 23-year-old Atiyaa Manley. That charge was dismissed. Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson says the case was thrown out because the only witness died.

The arrest of 27-year-old George Brown makes the fourth in the investigation. He is charged with accessory after the fact of murder and possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number. Brown has a much smaller criminal file than the others charged in the case. He has a previous conviction for a simple assault charge. In 2010 he was found shot several times in the driveway of a home in the Ponderosa subdivision, and investigators say his shooting may have been connected to his witnessing the 2008 murder of Shawn Michael Porter. The suspect in that case was found not guilty.

Mayor: 'We will catch you'

Chief Mullen said the man they had been searching for in the surveillance video as a witness is one of the four men now charged.

The chief's voice caught as he emotionally described how the case affected everyone involved."Some cases are so compelling, they are difficult to comprehend," he said. "When a young person is brutally murdered, it touches a nerve in all of us and makes us ask why. This was a senseless act of violence that has touched our department and the community. I am proud today of the men and women that worked so hard to bring these criminals to justice, and I know Marley would be proud too."

After the announcement, Mayor Riley came forward and mentioned how citizens helped solve the case by coming forward with information. He also had a message for those who strive to break laws in his city.

"In Charleston, we will catch you, and you will go to jail," he said. "Your crime might be in the darkest of the night with seemingly no one around, but we will catch you and you will go to jail. There is no place to hide."

He touted the success of the Charleston Police Department for solving a crime that had occurred "with no one around but the criminals."

"If you combined Scotland Yard, the FBI, Interpol, CIA, Secret Service, fact or fictional stories about police investigations, you wouldn't find a better example of excellence, teamwork and success in this instance," he said.

He also thanked the residents of the community for looking out for each other and using Crime Stoppers when they had information."The good citizens of Ardmore are no more tolerant of accepting crime than anyone else," he said.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson commended investigators for not "going in like cowboys," taking things slowly and making sure they had a case her office could work with.

She also commended the department for not leaking any information -- which she says would have hurt the prosecution, evidence and the fact gathering process.

"Our hearts go out to the victim's family," she said. "It's going to be a long road."

Check back with ABC News 4 as we continue to develop this story.

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