Prosecutors won't seek death penalty in Marcus Brown re-trial

2:15 PM, Sep 6, 2012   |    comments
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Bartow, Florida -- Prosecutors have decided they will no longer seek the death penalty against a man accused of beating his 2-year-old son to death with a belt in 2010.

Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict in the case against Marcus Brown last month.

Now, as prosecutors plan to try him again, they've decided to take the death penalty off the table.

Brown's wife, Ina Brown, pleaded no contest last April to charges of aggravated manslaughter and neglect of a child, and agreed to testify against her husband in the death of their son,  Deondray Ashe.

The two-year-old died after Marcus Brown allegedly beat the child with a belt nearly 30 times in June 2010.

Investigators say there may have been a red flag two months earlier when DCF first received a report of possible child abuse from the Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

Ashe had two fractured ribs then. Lakeland Police closed the case without charges, saying the parents provided a plausible explanation.

A DCF caseworker spent the next month monitoring the family, according to circuit administrator Ann Berne, but by the end of May, the DCF case was closed.

In June 2010, Ashe died.

At the time, a DCF caseworker blamed Brown but also pointed a finger at the boy's mother, Ina.

"She was a witness to the beatings of the child. She's aware of the whole circumstance and has failed to protect the children," they said at the time.

Ina Brown was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

She testified during the trial that she didn't recall telling police what investigators say she told them.

Marcus Brown's new trial is set for January.

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