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Arraignment for fugitive is bypassed, preliminary hearing set for March 19

Arraignment for fugitive is bypassed, preliminary hearing set for March 19

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Virginia State Police and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office vehicles were stationed at a crossroads near the home where Michael Alexander Brown was found before he was arrested Wednesday morning.

Michael Alexander Brown was scheduled to be arraigned in Franklin County General District Court on Wednesday morning to face charges of second-degree murder, use of a firearm in a felony and fugitive with felony arrest.

The arraignment was bypassed, according to a court clerk, who said the court received a letter of representation for Brown. Court records show that Deborah Caldwell-Bono is Brown's attorney of record. During the 18-day search for Brown, Caldwell-Bono issued a public plea for Brown to turn himself in after friends of Brown’s asked her to represent him.

A preliminary hearing date has been set for March 19.

Commonwealth Attorney A.J. Dudley told The Franklin News-Post on Monday, he had “no comment at this time” if there would be additional charges filed in the case.

Federal charges in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia have been dismissed. According to the now-dismissed federal criminal complaint, Brown's mother, Victoria Hanson, named her son as the shooter.

Brown, 22, eluded police for nearly three weeks following the Nov. 9 shooting of his mother’s boyfriend, Rodney Brown. He was arrested without incident Nov. 27 by Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, FBI and Virginia State Police at his mother's home on Woodthrush Circle in Hardy, where the shooting allegedly occurred. 

The sheriff’s office released a statement Dec. 2 that “officers were searching the Hardy residence for Michael Brown. As officers prepared to enter the attic space of the residence, Michael Brown crawled out of the attic and was apprehended by law enforcement without further incident.”

The release added, “At no point did Michael Brown contact law enforcement and make arrangements to surrender or turn himself in.”

Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton said on Nov. 27 that he was thankful for the cooperation of many law enforcement agencies that assisted during the investigation, which is still ongoing.

“This has been an intense manhunt for the past 18 days covering three states and multiple surrounding jurisdictions,” Overton said. “I am thankful the situation has come to a successful closure with no injury to the public or law enforcement personnel.”

Brad Sellers, acting marshal for Western District of Virginia, thanked the public and said the U.S. Marshals Service received more than 340 tips that led to investigative actions during the three-week manhunt. Officials did not have answers as to how Brown was able to elude law enforcement for so long, but Overton said on Nov. 27 he was being interviewed and going through the booking process.

He said while tips of sightings “did not directly lead to the apprehension” of Brown, it was important to note the public wanted law enforcement to be as efficient as possible.

“It’s been an extensive manhunt, numerous man hours dedicated to the pursuit of this,” Sellers said.

The search for Brown caused Roanoke City Schools to close and a “shelter in place” of the Grandin neighborhood in Roanoke when officials were tipped that a man was seen knocking on the windows of a home belonging to his grandmother, and an RV he had been driving was located in a church parking lot in the area.

Brown had been camping in the RV in Clarendon County, South Carolina where a Lincoln Town car was located that had also been tied to him. He arrived at the campground the same day he was to report for duty at Camp Lejune Marine Base in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

His mother and friends made public pleas for Brown to turn himself after the shooting.

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