Tsaye Lemar Simpson was found not guilty on May 29 on all counts relating to the October 2013 death of UVA dining staff coworker Jarvis Brown.
Simpson, 23, had been charged with first-degree murder and three weapons charges for shooting and killing Brown, 22, with a shotgun in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood. After Simpson’s defense team successfully convinced the jury that the key witness testimony was unreliable and police were careless in their investigation, Simpson was acquitted on the fourth day of the trial.
“The only thing that connects him to this case is Brandon Rush,” defense attorney Lloyd Snook said, according to the Progress.
Rush, the key witness and a friend of Brown, testified that he was with Brown on the night of the murder, recounting that the two were on the way to Rush’s house to smoke marijuana when they stopped at a convenience store to buy blunt wrappers and saw Simpson. According to coworkers at a University of Virginia dining facility where Simpson and Brown worked, the two had a “workplace beef.”
Brown and Rush followed Simpson to Woodland Drive to fight, and Rush testified he watched from the passenger seat as Brown parked and approached Simpson. He said he saw Simpson walking toward Brown with a raised shotgun before Brown began backing away with his hands in the air. Rush said he heard the gunshot and saw Brown’s body drop to the ground.
Simpson, who, in 2009 at age 17 led police on a high-speed Rugby Road chase, lived only 100 yards away from the Woodland spot.
Brown’s family was outraged by the verdict.
“That was like a slap in my face,” his mother, Shirley Holley, told the Progress. “My whole heart just dropped.”