Trio sentenced in Marley Lion murder case
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Three men faced a judge Wednesday. All pleaded guilty to various charges associated with the murder of Marley Lion, 17.
Julius Brown and Bryan Rivers were sentenced to 28 years in prison. George Brown was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
"We are confident, without a shadow of a doubt, the right triggerman was convicted," Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said at a press conference after the sentencing hearing.
On June 16, 2012, Marley Lion was parked outside of Famous Joe's Bar and Grill on Savannah Highway in West Ashley. Officials say Lion was sleeping in the back seat of his car when Ryan Deleston fatally shot Lion in a failed robbery attempt.
George Brown pleaded guilty Wednesday to being an accessory to murder, possessing a pistol with an obliterated serial number and being an accessory to armed robbery.
Wilson said in court that once he was exposed by his codefendants, George Brown told the full truth and "to his credit" cooperated and testified without a plea deal.
According to the solicitor, Ryan Deleston used George Brown's gun to shoot Lion. Police set up a sting operation and caught Deleston trying to sell the gun after the murder.
Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said that gun was the murder weapon and Brown agreed in open court.
The judge accepted Brown's guilty plea.
Bryan Rivers and Julius Brown were brought in next. Both men had already pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. They accepted plea deals in October and testified against convicted shooter Ryan Deleston.
Wilson told the judge that had George Brown started cooperating sooner, the case might have been solved more quickly with more evidence. In contrast, she said Rivers and Julius Brown were instrumental in the murder case against triggerman Ryan Deleston.
Both Rivers and Julius Brown had extensive criminal backgrounds including drug and sexual assault convictions.
While holding back tears Elizabeth Paige told the judge that her son, Marley Lion, made all the right choices.
"He was going to Clemson to study Mandarin and international trade. He loved to play lacrosse fiercely, basketball, music. He created music. That was just a fraction of the man he was going to become," she said.
But Paige said his killers were opposites of Lion; they made bad decisions even after serving time in prison for serious crimes.
"They chose to ignore every teacher, every elder, every person tried to talk sense to them. They ignored those people and do what they wanted to do," Paige said.
The judge agreed and used strong words to sentence Julius Brown and Bryan Rivers each to 28 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter. Each took a plea deal for the lesser manslaughter charge in exchange for testifying against Marley's killer, Ryan Deleston. A jury convicted Deleston in October.
"This is just incident after incident after incident and no learning or knowledge of, 'I don't want to go back to that place or I don't want to go back on probation.' I see nothing to indicate to me that kind of behavior is going to change," the judge said.
"This is not what man is about. Not about killing people and stealing things from people. So I'm concerned for their children, that this is the example they're setting for them. I hope they repent their ways and get it together," Paige said.
It may be the end of legal proceedings, but she said she would never stop mourning the loss of her son Marley.
"I hope when they're in prison they consider how offensive it is to the creator of life to kill his precious children. I hope they stop thinking they run things and start looking to the one who runs things and start asking some questions instead of talking, doing, start thinking," Paige said. "Start asking, 'What is this thing supposed to be about? Who am I supposed to be?' Because obviously they're confused.'"
A jury found Deleston guilty last month. He was charged with murder, attempted armed robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime and possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number.
He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The men were given credit for time served. Rivers and Julius Brown have already served more than 400 days in prison.