On Wednesday evening, a Buchanan County jury found Brandon Cox guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.
The jury was dismissed to consider the evidence presented in the trial of Cox, including testimony from a man who had only come forward with his story on Monday.
Travis Hunt was the only witness called by the defense on Wednesday afternoon, following the conclusion of the state’s evidence being presented.
Hunt said since October of last year, he’d been feeling guilt about not coming forward about a conversation he’d had with York two days before he was killed.
In the conversation, York had made reference to a friend by the name of Brandon Cox.
“He mentioned something about a guy named Brandon on 13th Street that probably had drugs and money and would be an easy hit,” Hunt told the jury.
What York meant by an easy hit was not made clear to the jury as prosecutor Michelle Davidson continually objected to the relevance when defense attorney Janeal Matheson asked about this.
Hunt told the jury he did not come forward at first because he wanted the man believed to have shot York to not get away with it, but he was unsure of what actually occurred on Oct. 10.
“I meant it really bothered my conscience for a long time, since October of last year,” Hunt said. “It’s something I’ve thought about: Brandon sitting in jail, and maybe something I said could help Brandon out.”
Along with Hunt, the jury also heard from several detectives and investigators who worked the case. The jury was able to see photos of the crime scene, York’s body as it was found in the yard on North 13th Street, and photos of the autopsy performed on York.
The jury also heard from Cox’s great aunt, who had talked with Cox a few days after the shooting occurred. The woman said with wavering confidence in her memory, that Cox had told her a story about another man trying to shoot at both he and York. The woman seemed very unsure of her memory of this conversation, something the defense noted in cross-examination.
The jury was asked by Davidson to return a verdict of guilty for first-degree murder and armed criminal action, though options of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter could be considered as other verdicts tied to armed criminal action.
Matheson asked that the jury instead consider self-defense, saying that Cox was only defending himself against an oddly behaving, insistent York.
“Brandon had his glasses off. You can make reasonable assumptions as to what Brandon might have thought based upon Clifford’s behavior and with the meth, he very well could have been very aggressive, very erratic,” Matheson said in her closing argument. “Clifford York was at the very least trespassing, and at the very worst, trying to commit burglary and robbery.”
In the end, the jury sided with the state, as they returned a guilty verdict on both counts. Cox faces life in prison, though an official sentencing has not been given.