A jury found a 29-year-old Centreville man guilty of second-degree murder Thursday afternoon following less than three hours of deliberation.
Brandon Kirkendall was accused of shooting and killing Samuel “Jamal” Brown on an apartment patio in East St. Louis just after 1 a.m. July 22, 2016. Court documents indicate the case’s only eyewitness was Kirkendall’s sister, Kyerra Kirkendall, who was house-sitting at the apartment, at 1235 McCasland Ave., when she asked her brother to come over that day.
She would later tell police in a recorded interview, about 12 hours after the shooting, that she saw Brandon Kirkendall arrive with two other men through a window in the apartment. Kyerra Kirkendall heard arguing and then heard Brown say “If you going to pull a gun out, you should use it.”
Then, his sister said she saw her brother shoot Brown more than two times. Later, a medical examiner would say Brown suffered nine gunshot wounds from four bullets shot from the same gun. Two of those gunshots directly caused his death.
A previous motion filed by prosecutors said that when Kyerra Kirkendall was subpoenaed as a witness, she told attorneys she didn’t remember or know anything about the shooting. Her interview with East St. Louis police on the day of the shooting was recorded, however.
Brandon Kirkendall was arrested Aug. 25, 2016 in Evansville, Indiana by United States marshals and has remained in jail since. Originally, his bail was set at $1 million but later reduced to $600,000.
Prosecutors charged Brandon Kirkendall with first-degree murder. The 12-person jury acquitted him on that charge and found him guilty of second-degree murder; the main distinction between the two charges center on the intent of the accused.
After the guilty verdict was read Thursday, prosecuting attorney John Trippi asked Judge Robert Haida to revoke Brandon Kirkendall’s bond because the man is known to travel between states frequently.
“We believe flight is an issue here,” he said.
Haida denied the request, explaining to Brandon Kirkendall that if someone posted his $60,000 bond (10 percent of the bail amount) he would be responsible to show up at his sentencing — and if he didn’t, the judge would still sentence the man that day.
Mr. Kirkendall has adamantly maintained his innocence throughout this process.
Public defense attorney Grant Menges
“Mr. Kirkendall has adamantly maintained his innocence throughout this process,” Brandon Kirkendall’s public defense attorney Grant Menges said in a statement. “We asked the jurors to acquit him of first-degree murder, and they have our sincerest gratitude for having heard our plea. It is our hope that this verdict will restore some much needed confidence to those who may have lost faith in our justice system.”
He declined to comment further on the trial.
Brandon Kirkendall’s sentence may be either a maximum of four years probation or a prison term of 4-20 years. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 20.