The man charged with killing an 8-year-old girl while she rode her bike in Camden managed to use Facebook Live from the county jail to identify a key witness against him and call the man a “snitch.”
The extraordinary social media post that Tyhan “Butt Butt” Brown, 20, secretly made with help from his girlfriend was played for a Superior Court jury on Tuesday during his murder trial. On a cellphone call from jail, he asked his girlfriend to use her phone to sign in to Facebook and record a live message that he told her to caption “Words from Butt.”
“I know who it is,” he said in the recording. “Tell everyone in the gang to stay away from Mr. John Burgos. Word up!”
Burgos, 24, testified for the prosecution last week and said Brown told him he was involved in the gun battle that led to the death of Gabrielle Hill-Carter. She was shot in the head during the crossfire of a gun battle as she played outside her house on South Eighth Street in August 2016.
Authorities said the gunfight was gang-related and that Brown was a member of the Centerville Bloods, who were feuding with the Hoover Crips.
Burgos said Brown told him he tried to shoot Amir Dixon, who ran in the direction of the child, but his gun jammed.
Dixon was not injured, but Hill-Carter died in the hospital two days later.
Brown told his former girlfriend, Natasha Gerald of Sicklerville, that Burgos was cooperating with police and that he learned this after reviewing 2,000 pages of statements from people who had spoken to police about the shooting.
“What made him say my name?” he asked in the Facebook Live post.
The courtroom was packed Tuesday with family and friends of the defendant and the victim.
The jury of eight men and six women also heard part of the videotaped statement Brown gave to police after he was arrested at a relative’s home in Tennessee a few weeks after the shooting. Brown did not admit to being at the scene despite Detective Sherman Hopkins Jr.’s repeated questions about what happened and a request to give “the little girl’s family peace.”
When Hopkins showed Brown a video of a police officer carrying the dead child from the scene and asked Brown what he would say to the family, Brown sniffed. “I’m sorry for your loss,” he replied. But later, when Hopkins asked if he was sorry, Brown said, “Sorry for what?”
In court, Brown was unemotional. After the video was played, he stretched his arms and rocked in his chair. He remains in Camden County Jail on $1.5 million bail.
Five months ago, Assistant Camden County Prosecutor Christine Shah offered Brown a plea arrangement that called for him to admit guilt in return for a recommendation that he receive a 40-year sentence. He rejected the deal. If convicted at trial, he could face life in prison.
Adam Brent, Brown’s Vineland-based defense attorney, argued that there is no evidence placing his client at the scene and said the state’s witnesses are mostly criminals whose stories are full of inconsistencies.
Burgos failed to show up on the day he was scheduled to testify and was brought to court the next day by a police officer.
Shah said the shooting was the result of an ongoing conflict between Brown and Dixon. Four days earlier, Brown had gone on Facebook Live and called Dixon a “rat” and a “fake Crip” who had called the police when the two men feuded. That post was also shown to the jury.
The trial, before Superior Court Judge John Kelley, is expected to continue at least through the week.