Defense lawyers ask for information in murder case

left - Brandon Brown, 22 right - Marquell Smith, 20
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Attorneys for two of three defendants accused in the murder of Christopher Guilbeau last year want the state to produce evidence.

Marquel Deonte Smith, 21; Brandon Eric Brown, 22; and Shamari Newton, 25, each entered not guilty pleas to murder last month at hearings before 202nd District Judge Leon Pesek. All were set for their first pretrial hearings in the case Monday.

Texarkana attorney Al Smith, who represents Brown, told Pesek that he has received only a probable cause affidavit and a “partial report,” from the Bowie County District Attorney’s Office. The state is required to turn over all evidence it plans to use at trial against a criminal defendant.

First Assistant District Attorney Michael Shepherd said Texarkana, Texas police are still investigating the case.

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“Once we have (a complete investigative file) we will turn it over,” Shepherd said.

Al Smith said he wants a specific date by which the state will provide discovery, arguing that Brown has been in jail, “a considerable length of time.” Marquel Smith’s lawyer, Chief Public Defender Rick Shumaker, urged Pesek to move forward with an order concerning the release of the state’s investigative file.

Pesek told Al Smith he is ready to issue an order directing police investigators to turn over their file to the defense within 10 days.

Newton did not appear Monday because her attorney, Gerald Smith of Arlington, was unavailable. Pesek set Newton, Marquel Smith and Brown to return to court Feb. 1 for pretrial hearings and promised that he’d issue an order forcing police to turn over reports if not in the possession of defense lawyers by that date.

Marquel Smith and Brown were arrested in Tulsa, Okla., March 5, while riding in Guilbeau’s white 2008 Dodge pickup. The next day Guilbeau’s body was found in an alley in Texarkana, Texas near a duplex where Newton had been living at the time Guilbeau disappeared in late February.

Newton and Marquel Smith were allegedly dating at the time of Guilbeau’s death and witnesses reported Newton had knowledge of the killing, according to a probable cause affidavit.

All of the defendants are set to appear before Pesek again Feb. 1 for pretrial hearings and a status update on the discovery, or evidence, issue. Newton, Brown and Marquel Smith remain in jail.

Marquel Smith’s bail is set at $1 million, Brown’s is set at $750,000 and Newton’s is set at $400,000. If convicted, the defendants face five to 99 years or life in prison.

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