INDIANAPOLIS — Marion Superior Judge Mark Stoner said he will announce Tuesday at 11 A.M. his verdict in the trial of Jason Brown, who’s accused of murdering Southport Police Lieutenant Aaron Allan.
Stoner’s announcement came following closing arguments that differed on whether Brown was literally conscious of his actions after rolling his car on Madison Avenue on July 27, 2017, and shooting Allan eleven times as the officer looked inside the inverted vehicle and offered to help.
“I do think that what Lieutenant Allan did was heroic,” said defense attorney Denise Turner, echoing her closing arguments from just minutes earlier inside Stoner’s courtroom. “He didn’t have to get in that car. He didn’t have to respond. One of the witnesses even told him, ‘Don’t get in the car. It might collapse on you,’ and he did it anyway, and when he got in the car, he was so caring and calm and trying to ease Jason and so, yeah, I think that is heroic. Nobody else got in the car. Nobody else put their lives at risk.”
Last week Stoner told attorneys that even if Brown is found guilty, he would not sentence the defendant to life in prison without parole because the judge did not believe the State proved Brown knew he was shooting a police officer.
“He has repeatedly expressed remorse to me,” said Turner. “This was something that would have never happened and it’s just not him.”
Turner argued that Brown suffered from a lifetime of head injuries and undiagnosed seizures and may have had one that day.
“Anybody that thinks about the case or looks at the video, their first thought is, ‘What happened? Why did this happen? This makes no sense.’ But look at it in terms of a seizure happening and this altered consciousness, that makes perfect sense.”
Deputy Prosecutor Ross Anderson argued that Brown had been using cocaine, “nine or ten times a day,” leading up to the crash but had gone “cold turkey” overnight so as to impress a new girlfriend when he left her behind to use drugs with a friend and Allan’s body camera video captured the fatal aftermath after a high-speed rollover crash and the killing of the policeman at point-blank range.
“What does the video actually show?” asked Anderson. “Someone who had just smoked spice and had a bad reaction.”
Anderson argued it was inconceivable that if Brown was in the midst of a seizure in which he had no memory of the crash or shooting, he could not have had the presence of mind or motor skills to retrieve a handgun from the waistband behind his back and fire 18 shots at Allan all while hanging upside down strapped into his wrecked car by a seat belt.
“When Lieutenant Allan tried to crawl into that car…and as he was in that vehicle, out comes the nine-millimeter and he has nowhere to go…and he lost his life.”
Anderson said one of Brown’s treating physicians at Eskenazi Hospital testified that he saw no evidence of a seizure, however, the prosecution’s contention that Brown had been smoking spice was flawed by the absence of a blood test to determine if the defendant was under the influence at the time of the crash.
Teresa Brown testified virtually due to COVID restrictions that when her son was born in 1989, he tested positive for methamphetamine and suffered two skull fractures when he was crushed below a falling child on the pavement at the age of five months.
Dr. Pamela Blake, a headache specialist from Texas, testified for the defense that she believed Brown had suffered undiagnosed seizures often in his life.
“We’ve got a boy with repeated head trauma and undiagnosed seizures,” Turner told the judge. “Not every story has a villain.”
At the conclusion of closing arguments, Judge Stoner told the attorneys he had more than 200 pieces of evidence to consider and would review the testimonies of two doctors while rendering his verdict.
At the outset, the late Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced his office would seek the death penalty for Brown if convicted.
His successor, Ryan Mears, backed off that pledge when it became obvious that due to COVID restrictions it was possible that Brown’s trial, including the video footage from Lt. Allan’s body camera, would be live-streamed and the officer’s widow expressed concern that someday the couple’s son would view the video online.
Stoner’s announcement that he would not consider life without parole upon conviction further tilted the potential sentence, and possibly even the verdict, in Brown’s favor.
We asked Turner if the judge could convict her client of a lesser charge in the death of Officer Allan or Brown could be set free if Stoner refuses to find him guilty of murder.
“There’s always the potential,” she said, “but given what the lesser charges are in the state of Indiana, all of them require some level of awareness, all of them require some level of consciousness, even reckless homicide, you have to know that you’re doing something reckless, right, so, because we don’t have that because what happened to Jason is that he didn’t know, none of the lessers fit, so, yeah, we’re at an all-or-nothing type situation.”
Both Allan’s family and the prosecutor refused to comment regarding the closing arguments.