Brown admitted to buying phone used to lure Saxton to scene of the crime, said it was stolen from him

By JAMIE PATTERSON,

Before the Ricky Saxton murder trial stopped this week, testimony focused on the cell phone used to lure Saxton to the scene where he was later murdered.

Experts gave testimony connecting the phone number of the cell phone used, where it was purchased and who made that purchase on the day Saxton was murdered behind an abandoned house in rural Yazoo County.

Before it was declared a mistrial, the trial began earlier this week in a Warren County court with the questioning of 11 total state witnesses. Wednesday’s testimonies focused entirely on the purchase and use of the pre-paid cell phone used up to the moment of Saxton’s murder.

According to Emily Whitehead, custodian of records with CSpire, six calls from the pre-paid cell phone were made to Saxton’s phone the day of the murder on Nov. 13, 2013. She said the calls began at 10:56 a.m. and ended at 12:08 p.m. She added that no communication came from Saxton’s phone at all after 12:42 p.m. that day.

Carmela Carbella, custodian of records with AT&T, verified the pre-paid phone was activated on the day of Saxton’s murder. She also added the only phone number called from the track phone was to Saxton’s phone line. She said a total of six calls were made to Saxton’s phone.

Lori Travis, who was an investigator with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations at the time, said her investigation confirmed that the only unidentified phone number listing on Saxton’s records was linked to the pre-paid cell phone.

Travis also said they were able to determine that the pre-paid phone was purchased on the day of the murder around 10:30 a.m. at Fred’s in Yazoo City. After determining where the phone was purchased, Travis acquired a warrant for the computer at Fred’s, which held video surveillance during the time of the phone’s purchase.

The computer from Fred’s was taken to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for further analysis. Short, fragmented clips were recovered by the FBI that showed an individual purchasing the phone.

Wayne Mitchell, an expert witness and forensic specialist with the FBI, said he was able to recover a total of 6,500 videos on the Fred’s computer. But specifically, on that time frame on Nov. 13, 2013, he said he narrowed the clips down to two videos.

Tommy Irvine, who served as chief investigator with the Yazoo County Sheriff’s Department at the time, said when the image captured from the Fred’s computer was released to the public, he received lots of feedback.

Irvine said the feedback from the public led investigators to suspect Brown. He said Brown later admitted that he purchased the phone.

“He originally denied it being him,” Irvine said. “After, he voluntarily came in and admitted the photo of being himself.”

An audio recording of the first interview with Brown was played during court Wednesday. In the recording, Brown admits he purchased the phone at Fred’s and had a friend activate the morning of Saxton’s murder.

But Brown said the phone was stolen by a family member at his house about an hour after he purchased it. Brown said he was charged with simple assault after attacking the alleged phone thief two weeks later.

“It’s mighty convenient that you purchased this phone, and an hour later it was stolen,” Irvine said, in the recording.

“I guess so,” Brown replied.

Later in the interview, Brown said the phone was stolen from his house and given to another man who he believed had something to do with the murder of Saxton.

“The last thing I could do was kill somebody,” Brown said. “That is the last thing that would cross my mind.”

“But you have to see that the purchase of this phone puts you on the top of the list,” Irvine replied.

Irvine reminded Brown that, at first, he lied about purchasing the phone. Brown said he didn’t know why that happened, but that it all started coming back to him about that day in question.

“I cannot stress enough to you that right now, at this moment, you are number one,” Irving said. “This is a capital offense.”

“I don’t know who killed Ricky Saxton,” Brown said. “I didn’t do anything.”

The questioning of Irvine stopped at that point after the defense attorneys for Brown successfully argued that it had not been provided with some of the evidence from the investigation leading to him being charged with Saxton’s murder.