Prosecutors directed not to seek death penalty against Billie murder suspect


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Prosecutors say U.S. Attorney General William Barr has directed them not to seek the death penalty in the case against the man accused of killing Ashanti Billie.

Eric Brian Brown was charged with murder and kidnapping in connection to Ashanti Billie’s death in 2017. The 19-year-old was found dead in Charlotte, North Carolina a week and a half after she went missing from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.

An indictment from a grand jury in December 2018 showed a federal kidnapping resulting in death charge against Brown carried with it a maximum penalty of death.

Keith Kimball, an attorney for Brown, said that the defense is “very relieved” that prosecutors won’t pursue the death penalty. Billie’s mother, Brandy Billie, said that she wanted prosecutors to seek the death penalty, but she will be content if Brown “can’t see the light of day again.”

“He took a life, so he owes a life. But then my faith kicks in and I know that’s not the right thing to do, that’s just the mother in me. That’s the mother in me that’s hurting still,” Brandy Billie told 10 On Your Side.

Brown as been committed at the Butner Federal Medical Center in North Carolina since he was diagnosed in with schizophrenia in December 2017 — and was subsequently deemed incompetent to stand trial.

Competency hearings to determine whether Brown could stand trial have been pushed back multiple times since his commitment at Butner.

On Tuesday a federal judge told prosecutors that they will be allowed to hire a separate expert to evaluate Brown’s mental competency. The judge will determine how much of that report will be used in future court proceedings.

The next hearing in the case will be one where the experts who have evaluated Brown will come together and tell the court their opinions on his mental illness and competency to stand trial.

Court records show Brown will be held at Butner for another 120 days, ending on Nov. 15. The facility’s director has been ordered to update the court on Brown’s status on Nov. 8.

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