A suspect in the robbery and slaying of a Fort Worth executive apparently went to great lengths to try to cover up the crime in his apartment, including replacing carpet, painting and removing furniture, court documents show.
Despite those efforts, crime scene officers found indications of blood inside the apartment of Brandon Bernard Daniels and also learned that he had confessed to killing someone to two relatives, warrants in the case state.
Daniels and his girlfriend, Damonica “Lady” Laniesha Evans, were arrested last month in South Carolina on capital murder warrants, accused in the robbery and slaying of Marion Lee Brown. They were later extradited to the Tarrant County Jail, where both remained Tuesday, charged with capital murder.
Bail is set at $1 million.
The couple is accused of luring Brown to their Enclave at Cityview apartment May 22, then robbing and killing him.
Brandon Daniels had called two family members to the complex that night, confessing to them that he had killed someone, according to arrest warrant affidavits written by homicide Detective J.T. Rhoden.
Daniels told his two relatives that Brown had contacted the couple to set up a prostitution deal with Evans. He said the couple decided, however, to rob Brown because the man had contacted them before and then failed to show up, the affidavit states.
“Brandon Daniels claimed that his shotgun had accidentally gone off and killed the man,” one of the relatives told police.
Police have said there’s no indication that Brown had been shot but rather was fatally beaten in the head with an unknown object.
One of the relatives also told homicide Detective Tom O’Brien that Daniels had pointed out Brown’s vehicle to them in the complex parking lot and that Evans had showed them the dead man’s wallet.
Daniels and Evans are also charged with aggravated robbery in connection with a 36-year-old man’s report that he was beaten and robbed by the couple the day before Brown’s slaying after being lured through an online escort ad to the same complex.
The man told robbery detectives that he was talking to the woman, identified in the ad as “Kendra,” inside the apartment where she had asked him to meet her when a large man came into the living room armed with a shotgun.
He said he was ordered to lie on the floor and was then struck in the head by the man with the shotgun. Kendra then went though his pockets, stealing money, credit cards and going through his phone, writing down information and threatening to call his wife if he told police.
“If you tell the police we are gonna let your family know what’s up. Then maybe pay them a visit,” the robbery report quotes the male suspect as saying.
The man drove himself to the hospital and alerted police.
Because of the “violent actions of the suspects in the robbery,” robbery Sgt. Mike Decker said Detective J. Lamond prioritized the robbery investigation.
Lamond quickly obtained an arrest warrant for Daniels and a search warrant for Daniels’ apartment after learning the apartment where the alleged robbery took place was registered to Daniels and the alleged victim picked Daniels out of a photo lineup as his attacker.
“At that point the death of Mr. Brown was not linked to the apartment,” Decker said.
Investigators were preparing to serve those warrants May 29 when they were alerted that Daniels’ phone number had surfaced in the investigation into Brown’s slaying.
Tampering with scene
Brown, an executive with Hill Phoenix, a manufacturer of display cases and refrigeration systems, had left his Fort Worth office about 4 p.m. May 22, then vanished.
The next day, Smith County Sheriff’s deputies found a burned carpet containing a partial skull and apparent brain matter, as well as paperwork belonging to the 53-year-old Brown.
Later that day, Brown’s 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser was found burned in Smith County.
On May 24, a fisherman discovered the body of a man with significant head trauma floating in Cross Lake in Caddo Parrish, La. The body was later identified through fingerprints as that of Brown.
Phone records indicate Brown’s last call on his cellphone had been made to a number that traced back to Daniels.
Robbery detectives held off entering the apartment May 29 and alerted homicide investigators after learning from the Enclave’s staff that Daniels had recently taken it upon himself to replace the apartment’s carpeting and repaint — signs that Brown may have been slain inside the apartment.
A new search warrant was obtained, this time looking for evidence of a murder.
A maintenance man told homicide detectives that he had gone inside Daniels’ apartment after Daniels had asked him if could replace some window blinds. Inside, the maintenance man noticed that there was new carpet, missing furniture and a bedroom that appeared to be freshly painted.
“Daniels did not contact the apartment to replace the carpet and must have paid for the replacement on his own,” states the search warrant affidavit, written by homicide Detective K.C. Sullivan.
Crime scene officers took several swabs of possible blood from inside the apartment’s bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, the warrant indicates.
In addition, large sections of carpet matching that used by the complex was found in a trash container at the complex.