A judge found substantial probability Friday that Zerrick Brown and Earl Patrick committed a robbery that led to the death of 60-year-old Carlton Coltrane. The men are each suspected of first-degree felony murder.
Coltrane died on May 9, three days after he was dragged out of a 7-Eleven on 8th Street Southeast and beaten after buying groceries.
One witness inside the 7-Eleven at the time later told police that a man with a white kufi grabbed Coltrane’s wallet and “wrestled” Coltrane out of the store while a second man was “standing and watching as if being a lookout or protector,” according to Brown’s charging documents.
MPD Detective James Wilson testified that he reviewed video footage recovered from the 7-eleven and the 911 call Coltrane made that night.
According to Wilson, Coltrane said he was attacked by two people that night. In the 911 call, Coltrane also said he was punched in the face and that his wallet was taken from his back pocket, Wilson told the court.
“Based on the 911 call, Coltrane didn’t seem incoherent and gave a description of Zerrick Brown,” Wilson said.
According to Wilson, Coltrane said he was attempting to pay for his purchases when a man grabbed his hand with his wallet and dragged him out of the store.
Wilson also told the court that police recovered Coltrane’s pocket-knife in front of the 7-Eleven store.
Gabriel Diaz, Brown’s defense attorney, argued that there was not probable cause for felony murder because there wasn’t evidence to support that a robbery took place. Diaz noted that Coltrane said during the 911 call that he was attacked, rather than robbed, and that the witness present for the altercation did not see the robbery take place, only Coltrane being forcibly removed from the store.
Diaz further argued that because Coltrane visited the hospital multiple times before his death, it was difficult to prove that the injuries sustained in the robbery were what caused Coltrane’s death.
Patrick’s defense attorney, Kevin Mosley, adopted Diaz’s position that there wasn’t proof of felony murder, but also added that Patrick’s mere presence should not be considered evidence that Patrick intended to aid Brown.
Judge Lynn Leibovitz disagreed, explaining that Brown and Patrick were clearly identifiable in the video footage and that she saw “clear evidence of collusion” between Brown and Patrick in the “elaborate” hand signals that the men exchanged. Leibovitz added that a jury “could find evidence of conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt” in the hand signals that the men exchanged.
Leibovitz further found no motive for Coltrane’s assault “other than a robbery” and said it was “obvious” in the video that the men waited for Coltrane to finish paying before Brown did a “football-type of tackle to drag” Coltrane from the store.
A felony status conference is scheduled for November 13.