Teen pleads guilty to killing homeless Raleigh man
Posted August 13, 2014 2:50 p.m. EDT
Updated August 14, 2014 10:54 a.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — One of five teens charged with killing a homeless man in 2012 and dumping his body in a trash can along Raleigh's Walnut Creek Trail pleaded guilty Wednesday to first-degree murder.
Angel Sean Muniz, 17, was sentenced to life in prison, but he will be eligible for parole in 25 years.
Friends found the body of Regynald Jose Brown, 37, on Dec. 8, 2012, in a trash can inside a drainage tunnel along the trail near Hammond Road. He hadn't been seen in more than a month and was reported missing two weeks earlier.
Wake County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Latour said a group of teens calling themselves "Big Money Sway" robbed homeless men on Raleigh greenways to raise their street credibility among gang members. They targeted Brown and started throwing rocks at him when he tried to fight back and hit one of the teens in the face, Latour said.
Brown was kicked and punched until he was unconscious, and the teens tossed his body into the woods nearby, Latour said. Three of them stayed behind, and Muniz picked up a large rock and hit Brown on the head with it three times, according to the prosecutor.
The teens showed Brown's body to others in subsequent days before deciding to conceal it, Latour said. They grabbed a trash can from someone's yard and a shovel, put the body into the can and tried to bury it, but they were unable to dig deep enough to hide the can, Latour said, so they hid the can as much as possible.
After Brown's body was found, investigators traced an address painted on it back to the suspects.
Raheem Hall and Tereise Massenburg also face first-degree murder charges in the case, while Tyrell Hamilton was charged with second-degree murder. Their cases are still pending, but prosecutors said Thursday that all three cases will likely be resolved before going to trial.
The fifth teen, who was 13 at the time of the crime, agreed to testify for the state as part of an agreement that would keep him in the juvenile court system.
Defense attorney Charles Christopher said Muniz has mental health issues but has been receiving treatment while in jail. The teen wants to better his life, Christopher said.
Brown's parents and girlfriend, Jacklyn Adams, attended the court hearing, and Wake County Assistant District Attorney Katy Pomeroy said they wanted him remembered as a smart man with a tender heart, not as a man who was down on his luck and then brutally murdered.
"He would do anything for anyone. He was a jack-of-all-trades. He was an all-around good man,” Pomeroy said. "He was a wonderful man and died in a way he never should have died."
Sabrina Muniz wept in court as her son was led away by deputies to be transferred to state prison.
"I just want to really apologize to the other family that we met on these terms, but now their pain is now my pain, she said. "Unfortunately, it had to end this way."