Families of Newport News homicide victims still demanding justice after not guilty by reason of insanity decision

Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Two Newport News families said they’re still waiting for justice following the recent decision in a double homicide case.

Their loved ones died in a double shooting last year, but the man charged in their deaths was recently found not guilty by reason of insanity.

The decision came down earlier this month. 

Police charged Darrell Chaney Jr. in the double homicide at Dunn’s Caribbean Restaurant in August 2019. The victims’ families tell 10 On Your Side they feel the justice system failed them. 

“My father was a good man. He’s a Jamaican immigrant, he came here, he basically lived the American dream,” said Briana Brown, the daughter of Barrington Brown.

It’s been a year since Barrington and Arki Abdul-Haqq Murad were tragically killed inside Dunn’s restaurant. Their families said they’re heartbroken and angry yet again.

“The system, I really feel, has failed us — has failed the families, has failed the community,” said Venus Sanders, Murad’s sister.

“I was enraged when I heard but I had to contain myself,” Sanders said about the verdict.

Newport News Commonwealth Attorney Howard Gwynn told 10 On Your Side two court-appointed psychologists evaluated Chaney. Both found Chaney to be insane at the time of the homicides. Gwynn said this outcome is incredibly rare — but that’s little recourse for the family. 

“For his life to end the way it did is just very upsetting,” said Sanders.

Chaney’s fate will be decided in November. The family is concerned he could eventually be released back into the community. 

“Who’s to say he won’t do this again. Who’s to say he’s not a threat to society any longer,” said Brown.

The family hopes to see change in future cases like theirs. They’re considering pushing for harsher penalties for cases with this outcome.

“If he’s sick or mentally ill, then he needs to be somewhere where he can withstand from coming out here and doing this again,” Sanders said.

Gwynn said Chaney is now in the custody of the commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. The court will get a report from the commissioner before deciding what happens next.

One notable case with a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict is John Hinckley Jr., who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981. He spent decades in a psychiatric facility before being allowed to move in with his mother in Williamsburg.

Last fall, Hinckley’s lawyer said his client was interested in pursuing a job in the music industry. He still must live by certain conditions due to the not guilty by reason of insanity verdict.


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