Bowie County judge releases three murder defendants

Shamari Newton, Brandon Eric Brown, and Marquell Deonte Smith
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Three Bowie County murder defendants were released on personal recognizance bonds Friday.

Brandon Eric Brown, 22; Marquell Deonte Smith, 21; and Shamari Newton, 25; appeared before 202nd District Judge Leon Pesek, Jr., Friday afternoon. Pesek refused to lower bonds for Brown and Marquell Smith at a hearing in December though he did reduce Newton’s from $1 million to $400,000.

The three defendants are accused in the Feb. 23 shooting death of Christopher Guilbeau. Brown and Marquell Smith were arrested March 5 by police in Tulsa, Okla., while driving Guilbeau’s missing truck. Guilbeau’s body was discovered in a Texarkana, Texas alley the following day but investigators believe he’d been dead much longer.

Brown’s lawyer, Al Smith of Texarkana, and Marquell Smith’s lawyer, Chief Public Defender Rick Shumaker, appealed Pesek’s ruling concerning bail to the 6th District Court of Appeals in Texarkana. The lawyers complained that the men should be released because the state was not ready to try the case within 90 days of their arrests.

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Brown and Marquell Smith had been in Texas custody for more than 100 days when their cases were indicted by a grand jury. Texas prosecutors cannot try a felony case before a jury when the case hasn’t been presented to a grand jury so it is impossible for the state to have been ready within the 90-day window set out by the state’s legislature, the lawyers argued. The higher court agreed.

The 6th District’s opinion sent the case back to Pesek for review of the bail issue. Pesek released all three defendants on $25,000 “no fee” bonds Friday. Jail records show all have been released.

Pesek ordered that all three defendants must remain in Bowie County on “house arrest,” wear GPS leg monitors, report to pretrial services three times weekly, and be available for random visits from pretrial supervisors within short notice. Pesek forbid the defendants from communicating with each other or contacting the family of Christopher Guilbeau.

Al Smith told Pesek his client is from Dallas and might have trouble finding a suitable place to live. Pesek said pretrial services could work with the local homeless shelter should Brown have no other place to go.

Shumaker asked Pesek if Marquell Smith would be allowed to leave home to make visits to his lawyer’s office. Pesek told Shumaker to take the attorney consultations to the client.

“You’re on the public dime,” Pesek said. “This is how we’re going to operate.”

Pesek scheduled Marquell Smith’s case for trial Oct. 4 and described the special setting as “unmovable.” Brown’s case is set for jury selection Nov. 7 and Newton’s is set for Dec. 6. If convicted of first degree murder, each faces five to 99 years or life in prison.

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