Trial begins in pizza delivery murder case

Maraleius Birdsong (provided by family)

ST. GEORGE, S.C. (WCIV) - A man about to go to trial for murder took a plea deal Tuesday and then turned on his co-defendant, saying he shot and killed a pizza delivery man over a cellphone.

Stephawn Sherrod Brown, 19, is charged with armed robbery and murder for the death of 20-year-old Maraleius Birdsong.

"This was a delivery set up by two individuals," said the prosecuting attorney in his opening statement. "They set this delivery up so they could rob whatever poor delivery person showed up"

The prosecution also said Brown shot Birdsong in the back of his head.

The second suspect, 18-year-old Jontae Davis, pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Brown. See what his plea agreement included by clicking here.

The prosecution detailed the events of the night, telling the jury that after shooting Birdsong, Davis and Brown ran off with boxes of chicken wings and cinnamon sticks. The prosecutor said Brown then took off his mask and left the hot box that held the food, leaving his DNA on both.

The prosecution's first witness was a woman who lives in the Appian Way Apartments in Dorchester County where the murder happened. They played the 911 call she made when she found Birdsong lying on the ground, bleeding from his head.

A second witness told the jury she heard a knock on her door for someone who ordered a pizza. She said it wasn't her but she tried to find who the delivery man thought was the customer - a person named "Tre."

Another witness said she came home to find two guys milling around outside the apartment building. She said she heard a gunshot a little after 8 p.m.

Davis testified that he asked Brown why he shot Birdsong and Brown said he did it because the victim would not give up his cellphone. Davis said Brown fired a single shot from about 5 feet away to the back of Birdsong's head.

On cross examination, Davis admitted that he had changed his story multiple times, including in a handwritten statement.

"The story you told today is the fourth story you've told about this, isn't it?" defense attorneys asked.

Davis agreed.

Defense attorneys also asked if Davis turned on Brown to "save his butt." He said he made the deal to cut down on his sentence.

The case continues on Wednesday.