Death penalty hearing delayed for Durham double-homicide suspect
Posted February 6
Durham, N.C. — A hearing to determine whether the state will seek the death penalty against a man accused in the December slayings of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend in Durham has been postponed until March.
Thursday’s hearing for Michael Teon Brown, of Hartsville, S.C., was postponed in Durham County Superior Court after two of the victim’s children requested that Brown not be eligible for the death penalty.
Brown is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Jessica Liriano, 33, and Jerron McGirt, 34. Police said Liriano and McGirt were shot outside their home in the 2200 block of Cheek Road on the morning of Dec. 16, moments after putting two of her three children on a school bus.
Brown was taken into custody two days later in Darlington County, S.C., after exchanging gunfire with deputies. He was treated for non-life-threatening wounds.
Prosecutor Jennifer Bedford said Brown is the father of Liriano’s youngest child, a 3-year-old boy. Her two older children, ages 15 and 18, asked that Brown not face the death penalty.
“I’m weighing their concerns,” Bedford said in court before asking for a continuance.
Liriano grew up in New York, where she spent time in foster care. Her former foster mother, Kristine Rodberg, told the Staten Island Advance newspaper that Liriano dealt with a nightmare when her former friend and babysitter became obsessed with one of her children.
Shonelle Melvelle-Grant was arrested in 2006 after trying to hire a hit man to kill Liriano so she could steal her daughter, who is now 15. The hitman was an undercover officer, and Melvelle-Grant served time in exchange for a guilty plea to second-degree criminal solicitation, according to the newspaper.
The newspaper said Liriano moved to South Carolina before coming to Durham.