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    1. #1
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      Oct 2010

      Johnny Mack Skeeto Calhoun - Florida Death Row

      Johnny Calhoun

      Mia Chay Brown

      Missing woman's body identified

      The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the body of Mia Chay Brown, 24, was found inside her burned 2000 Toyota Avalon Monday. Authorities said Tuesday they now have a positive identification.

      Capt. Harry Hamilton of the sheriff’s office said their primary suspect is Johnny Mack Skeeto Calhoun, 33. Calhoun appeared before a judge Tuesday morning on a charge of tampering with evidence. Hamilton would not elaborate on what that charge stems from, saying that it is an active and ongoing investigation.

      Calhoun’s bond is set at $20,000. If he bonds out, he will be transferred to Alabama as there are charges against him there. According to court records, Calhoun faces charges of possession of a controlled substance and of bond forfeiture in Dale County, Ala. after he was arrested in there on June 13. He was set to go to court on those charges in February.

      Brown, of Bonifay, was reported missing on Thursday. She was last seen around 8:15 p.m. at her work place. Brown was employed at Charle’s Store in Esto. Friends and family said she gave Calhoun a ride that night.

      Investigators said their search for Brown began as soon as her disappearance was reported. Hamilton said they were hoping for a different outcome, but they are now focusing on gathering evidence in the case to make sure the person or persons responsible are put behind bars.

      On Monday morning, Brown’s car was found in a wooded area in Geneva County, Ala. Later that afternoon the Avalon was pulled from the woods. Calhoun was also taken into custody Monday afternoon. Hamilton said he was found in his travel trailer in Esto hiding under a bed, and was taken into custody without incident. Calhoun’s travel trailer is now evidence in the case.

      Geneva County Sheriff Greg Ward said two game and fish officers with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources discovered the Avalon early Monday after receiving information that Calhoun was known to camp in the area. The wardens discovered a tent over the weekend, Ward said.

      “(Calhoun) had been known to camp in this area. They were checking to see if someone had been sleeping (in a tent) there and happened to see where some dishes had been knocked over. The vehicle was about 200 yards away from there,” Ward said.

      The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, Alabama Bureau of Investigation, Alabama Fire Marshal and the Geneva County Sheriff’s Office were all involved in the search and early investigation.

      Brown said his department was notified on Monday by Geneva County sheriff’s authorities that the vehicle for which Florida law enforcement was searching had been discovered.

      On Tuesday, authorities from the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office and Alabama continued to look for evidence in the area where Brown’s car was found. They are utilizing canines experienced in article recovery. Investigators are continuing fingerprint and DNA testing as well.

      On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s crime lab will be processing Calhoun’s travel trailer. They are also assisting in processing other items related to the investigation.


    2. #2
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      Oct 2010
      Man charged for murder of Bonifay woman

      An Esto man has been charged with first-degree murder in the December death of a Bonifay woman.

      According to the State Attorney’s Office, a Holmes County grand jury indicted Johnny Mack Skeeto Calhoun of first-degree murder and kidnapping Friday.

      Calhoun, 33, of Esto is accused of killing Mia Brown, 24, of Bonifay, in December. Brown went missing Dec. 16 and her body was found inside her burned car in Geneva County, Ala., on Dec. 20.

      A panel of senior prosecutors will review Calhoun’s case to decide if the office should pursue the death penalty against him, according to the State Attorney’s Office.


    3. #3
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      Oct 2010
      Judge rejects murder suspect's request to suppress statement

      A judge denied a motion Monday to suppress the statements of a murder suspect who argued deputies continued an interview after he asked for an attorney.

      Johnny Mack Sketo Calhoun is scheduled for trial in February for allegedly killing 24-year-old Mia Brown. His attorney, Kim Dowgul, argued during a hearing last month that Calhoun’s statements to investigators with the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office should be suppressed because Calhoun requested an attorney early in a Dec. 20, 2010, interview.

      Judge Christopher Patterson ruled investigators were not required to stop questioning Calhoun, Patterson wrote, based on previous court cases.

      During the interview, Calhoun claimed he’d been kidnapped and held captive on the day of Brown’s death. Brown’s body was found Dec. 20, 2010, in the trunk of her burned car. She had been missing since Dec. 16.

      Prosecutors believe she was still alive when the car was set on fire. Calhoun faces the death penalty if convicted.


    4. #4
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      Oct 2010
      Murder Trial Set to Begin Monday in Holmes County

      Jury selection is set to start Monday in the murder trial of an Esto man accused of killing a Holmes County store clerk in December 2010.

      In Bonifay Monday morning, Circuit Judge Chris Patterson will oversee jury selection for the murder trial of 34-year-old Johnny Mack Calhoun.

      Calhoun is accused of killing 24-year-old Mia Brown.

      Investigators say he held brown for three days before putting her in the trunk of her car, driving to the Hartford, Alabama area and setting the car on fire. Brown died in that fire.

      NewsChannel 7 will cover the jury selection, which may prove to be difficult because of the case's notoriety. The state has said it will likely seek the death penalty if Calhoun is convicted.


    5. #5
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      Oct 2010
      Opening Statements Take Place in Johnny Calhoun Murder Trial

      Bonifay - "This whole situation began with somebody agreeing to give somebody a ride," Assistant State Attorney Brandon Young told the jury.

      "But the question will be how much sense will this all make in the end?," Defense Attorney Kimberly Dowgul asked the jury.

      Attorneys for both sides in the Johnny Sketo Calhoun murder trial had strong opening statements Wednesday.

      "You're going to find the defendant guilty as charged of kidnapping and first degree murder," said Young.

      "Does it all, when you take both sides, fit together?," asked Dowgul.

      The state told jurors evidence will prove Calhoun murdered Mia Brown in 2010. The defense, however, seemed to imply Calhoun's girlfriend at the time, Brittany Mixon, framed him.

      "When he walks in there the second time after Ms. Mixon has been there, there's now a shotgun that belongs to Johnny Mack," Dowgul told jurors.

      Following opening arguments, the state called up its first witnesses.
      Among them was Brown's husband Brandon Brown.

      "What did you do when you realized she hadn't made it home?," Young asked him.

      "I started calling her family to see if she may have went over there or something," said Brown.

      Convenience store clerk Sherry Bradley also took the stand. She claimed Calhoun came into her store the weekend Brown was murdered.

      "I noticed he had scratches on his hands and the blood had dried," said Bradley.

      Seven others testified Wednesday. Calhoun's girlfriend was not one of them. She and nine others could take the stand as soon as Thursday.

      The state is expected to wrap up its case by Wednesday. The defense would then take over Monday. The state is seeking the death penalty.


    6. #6
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      Oct 2010

      Johnny Calhoun's Ex-Girlfriend Testifies in Murder Trial

      Thursday's testimony began with one of Johnny Sketo Calhoun's former classmates Darren Batchelor. He became the second witness to place Calhoun at a gas station in the area the same weekend Mia Brown was murdered.

      "Have you ever seen Mr. Calhoun at Ms. Sherry's store?," State Attorney Glenn Hess asked Batchelor.

      "Yes sir I have," said Batchelor.

      "How many times have you seen him there?," asked Hess.

      "One," said Batchelor.

      Alabama Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Boudreau, who performed Brown's autopsy, was next to testify. He told jurors Brown was alive when her murderer put her in the trunk of her own car and set it on fire.

      "You can see soot embedded in the mucus blanket of the airway. What that does is tell you that this person was breathing smoke," said Boudreau.

      Then Brittany Mixon, Calhoun's girlfriend in 2010, took the stand. She testified finding Brown's purse and someone's cigarettes and wine in Calhoun's trailer the weekend he and Brown disappeared.

      "How long were you in that trailer?," Defense Attorney Kimberly Dowgul asked Mixon.

      "Long enough to see the purse, get the purse, see the wine, get the wine and the cigarettes and get out," said Mixon.

      Mixon denied planting any evidence, but during cross examination, the defense questioned her character.

      "You were leading him on because he had money," said Dowgul.

      "I could say I was leading him on because he had money, but Johhny Mack was my friend, and he was my best friend," said Mixon.

      The state plans to call six more witnesses Friday, then rest its case. It's not clear if Calhoun will take the stand.


    7. #7
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      Oct 2010
      State Rests Case in Johnny Calhoun Murder Trial

      In day three of testimony in the murder trial of Johnny Sketo Calhoun, the state called six more witnesses to the stand. Half of them were Florida Department of Law Enforcement Agents.

      Friday was also the first time this week jurors heard testimony regarding DNA evidence discovered in Calhoun's trailer.

      "I found a partial roll of duct tape and some pieces of duct tape," said FDLE Senior Crime Lab Analyst Charles Richards.

      Crime lab analyst Trevor Seifret told jurors crime techs found Brown's blood on that tape. He also revealed investigators found both Brown's and Calhoun's blood on other items.

      The state then introduced another key piece of evidence, a picture of the ceiling of Calhoun's trailer taken by Brown's camera. FDLE Agent Jennifer Roeder testified it was most likely captured December 17, 2010 the same date Brown disappeared.

      "In the internal workings of the camera, there's usually a setting when you turn on the camera where you can set the date and time and that time and date is stored," said Roeder.

      Holmes County Sheriff's Office Captain Harry Hamilton and Investigator Michael Raley were the final two witnesses of day.

      Raley testified as to what Calhoun told deputies when they caught him in his trailer the Monday following Brown's murder.

      "What was his response?," Assistant State Attorney Brandon Young asked Raley.

      "That he had been evading and hiding from law enforcement," said Raley.

      Besides Brown's blood in the trailer, investigators also discovered several strands of her hair. The defense will start presenting its case Monday.


    8. #8
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      Oct 2010
      Johnny Calhoun Guilty of Kidnapping and First-Degree Murder

      Bonifay- Esto resident Johnny Sketo Calhoun is guilty of the 2010 kidnapping then burning to death of Holmes County resident Mia Brown.

      "Now we can just start the grieving process," said Brown's brother Chuck Riddle.

      Prior to the verdict Tuesday, both sides presented strong closing arguments. The state brought up DNA and other evidence.

      "Why did he wait eighteen hours before he came out there Saturday morning? Because he'd seen Michael Raley Friday afternoon. The jig's up," Assistant State Attorney Brandon Young said to the jury.

      The defense, though, claimed there were still too many unanswered questions.

      "Two words that got us here are the two words I'm asking you to return, and that is Johnny Mack Sketo Calhoun is not guilty," Defense Attorney Kimberly Dowgul told jurors.

      But in the end, jurors agreed with the prosecution, finding Calhoun guilty of the kidnapping and first degree murder of Mia Brown in 2010.

      Following the verdict, News Channel 7 spoke with Brown's family and friends who said justice had finally been served.

      "I feel for the Brown's, of course, I feel for the Williams, and I feel for the family," said Brown family friend Ida Snaidman.

      "The jury found him guilty and I just feel like we have justice for our sister, Mia Brown. Like I said now we can start the grieving process," said Riddle.

      The penalty phase starts Wednesday. That's when the jury will recommend either the death penalty or life in prison.


    9. #9
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      Oct 2010
      Jury Recommends Death Penalty

      A Holmes County jury recommended Wednesday by a count of 9-3 that Johnny Mack Sketo Calhoun be executed for the first-degree murder of Mia Brown.

      State Attorney Glenn Hess and Assistant State Attorney Brandon Young presented evidence to support three legal aggravating factors to justify the death sentence: the murder was committed while Calhoun was engaged in the commission of kidnapping or arson; the murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel; and the murder was committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification.

      Calhoun, 34, of 1072 Newton Road, Bonifay, kidnapped Mia Chay Brown the night of Dec. 16, 2010, bound her with duct tape, put her into the trunk of her car and on Dec. 17, 2010, he set the car on fire, burning her alive.

      He was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder.

      Wednesday’s vote was simply a recommendation, but it carries great weight with the judge.

      The next phase will be a hearing to allow the attorneys a chance to present additional evidence directly to the judge to help him make his decision. Generally, the judge then takes another month or so to prepare written findings in advance of the sentencing hearing.

      According to the state Department of Corrections, there are currently no inmates on death row from Holmes County. The last men to be executed from Holmes County were Pleas Dixon in 1945 and Frank Peterson in 1959.


    10. #10
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      Oct 2010
      Murderer: ‘My life's in God's hands now'

      Convicted murderer Johnny Mack Sketo Calhoun returned to court Wednesday for his "Spencer Hearing," during which both attorneys argued whether he deserves the death penalty.

      Calhoun was convicted in late February for the first-degree murder of Mia Shay Brown in December 2010. Judge Christopher Patterson will take Wednesday’s testimony under advisement before rendering a decision at a later, as-yet undetermined date.

      “This is a case without question that calls for the death penalty,” State Attorney Glenn Hess said in opening the final hearing.

      Hess said that the aggravating factors far outweigh the mitigating ones.

      “There’s a vast difference between the aggravating and mitigating factors,” Hess said. “What he did he did without regard to her as a human being; it was cold, it was calculated and it was without remorse.”

      Brown, 24, of Bonifay, went missing Dec. 16, 2010. Four days later, her burned car was found in rural Geneva County, Ala., and her body was discovered in the trunk.

      Calhoun’s public defender, Kim Dowgul, began by calling Betsy Spann, Calhoun’s younger sister. She described her relationship with Calhoun as her best friend.

      “Growing up he was always the one that I played with, lead me and kept me out of trouble,” Spann said. “He has changed so many people’s lives; he’s not putting up a front to try to get out of trouble.”

      Sharon Calhoun said her son’s fate is “in God’s hands” and maintained that her son is innocent.

      “We can’t sleep at night, but he says he’s let it go into God’s hands,” Sharon Calhoun said. “I’m sorry for Mia, and I know what it’s like to loose a child. Johnny’s innocent; he’d never have mistreated a woman. If you kill him, you’ll kill my husband. … You say he’s guilty, but he’s not guilty. I beg you; don’t take my son’s life.”

      John Searsy with God is Faithful Ministries said Calhoun was “humble and shy” when they met in 1985.

      “I can’t compare what I met at the jail with the child I met; it’s not a valid comparison,” he said.

      Dowgul noted that although a jury found him guilty, the state must prove “the crime was heinous, atrocious and cruel enough for the death penalty.”

      She said there was only evidence of what happened, but there was no evidence of those events leading up to what happened.

      “They couldn’t prove if she was conscious while she was in the trunk,” Dowgul said. “It’s speculative as to whether she was conscious during the burning of the trunk, so you don’t know if it truly was heinous and atrocious. You can’t prove if it was cold, calculated and cruel. It points more to an action while panicked, not calculated at all. This was not a well thought out plan.”

      She said there was no evidence he fled to avoid arrest and prosecutors didn’t have a motive for Brown’s kidnapping or murder.

      “Again, going to the speculation of this case, the death penalty shouldn’t be an option,” Dowgul said. “We’re left here to speculate what the events really were; there’s just not enough facts. The facts are not specific enough and I recommend that you overrule the jury’s death penalty verdict.”

      Calhoun then approached the judge to speak.

      “I’ve done and made some horrible choices in my lifetime, but my life’s now committed to God,” Calhoun said. “Whatever the court decides, if it’s life in prison or death, I’m OK with it because my life’s in God’s hands now.”

      Hess then called the family of Mia Brown one by one to speak.

      Chuck Riddle said he was one of the people who found his sister’s body in the burnt vehicle.

      “I was asked if I had something to say and for 471 days I’ve waited, and in all that time I had a lot to say — until I got here today,” Riddle said. “I tried to not hate him. Then I get here and he comes in with that smug smile and tells everyone how his life has been changed, that he’s found Christ, but isn’t the first thing about being a Christian is that you admit your sins and seek forgiveness? Not once has he ever admitted his guilt; not once has he sought for forgiveness — not from us — and on your knees to God at two in the morning isn’t going to cut it.”

      When Brown’s aunt Kay Newton was called to the stand, she countered one of Dowgul’s arguments.

      “His attorney said that he shouldn’t get the death penalty because when he did what he did that he was in a panic,” Newton said. “That may be true at first, but then he had 14 hours to change his mind and because he chose to kill my niece, I believe from everything that I read about the death penalty that it’s called for now. At least his family has a chance to say goodbye, which is more than he did for my niece.”

      Meagan Criser, Brown’s sister, took the stand next.

      “We were only 20 months apart,” Criser said. “She was my best friend and for the longest time we shared the same bed. Even when we got our own rooms, I’d still find my way to her bed.

      “Now the only way for some of our family members to know her are by stories.”

      Criser said Calhoun “creeped me out” when she first saw him, “but Mia said, ‘That’s Johnny Mack. He doesn’t have very many friends; we should show him kindness.’ ”

      “That was Mia, kind to everyone, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, and to see him here, how he treated her kindness, I have no doubt that if he’s made his peace with God, then he should get there all the sooner so the Father can deal with him personally,” she said.

      Nancy Williams, Brown’s mother, was the last to speak, first reading from Brown’s journal, in which she talked about wanting to spend more time with her family and starting one herself.

      Brown also read an essay Brown wrote, telling how she sympathized with the main character of a book who was ostracized and an outcast because people judged him for his appearance.

      “This is how she lived her life, treating others how she’d want to be treated,” Williams said. “I’ve taught all my children to do the right thing, to be kind to others, and began to think that I taught them the wrong thing … but then I realized right will always be right and wrong will always be wrong.”

      Williams then looked at Calhoun. “You made your choice and I believe in accountability and I believe justice will be served,” she said.

      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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