A Marine veteran who deserted his post in late 2019 and authorities allege later shot and killed his mother’s boyfriend before evading capture as a federal fugitive for 18 days faces a murder trial in March.
Former Cpl. Michael Alexander Brown, 23, with 8th Engineer Support Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, previously pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, larceny, burglary and the use of a firearm in a felony offense.
Brown was reported for unauthorized absence from his post on Oct. 24, 2019, days after the command couldn’t find him. Witnesses told police that they saw Brown at Elliott’s Landing Campground in South Carolina, 250 miles from Lejeune, during that time period.
Authorities have said that he visited his mother, Vanessa Hanson in Franklin County, Virginia, during that time. She later testified that they spoke on Halloween and he had a “pressured, deep and urgent” voice and appeared to be “losing his mind.”
On Nov. 9, 2019, now officially reported as a deserter, police say that Brown confronted his mother’s boyfriend, Rodney Wilfred Brown, 54, at his shared home with Hanson near Roanoke, Virginia.
Hanson testified that the pair were talking outside the front entrance while she watched television inside. She heard a “loud, cracking” sound and went outside to find the elder Brown on the ground and her son holding both a rifle and a pistol with a suppressor.
Brown fled and evaded capture for more than two weeks, being placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list during that time. He was later found by police in the attic of the home where he allegedly shot Wilfred Brown. He has been in police custody since.
Hanson later testified in pretrial hearings that her son had told her he would kill the 54-year-old man if he beat her again.
Court evidence showed that Wilfred Brown died from three .22-caliber gunshot wounds to the head and five to the torso. Rounds retrieved from the body were linked to having been fired from the two guns that Brown possessed at the time.
This is an excerpt from “19 Things Marines Need To Know For 2022,” in the January print edition of Marine Corps Times.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.