A conservative news site has deleted a story accusing 18-year-old Michael Brown of facing second-degree murder charges after that turned out not to be true, Buzzfeed reported.
The story, published by the Independent Journal Review, was written by conservative blogger Charles C. Johnson, who also filed a lawsuit against St. Louis County Court seeking to unseal Brown’s juvenile criminal record. The suit argued that Johnson “was informed by law enforcement authorities at the local and federal levels” that Brown had a “substantial” juvenile record, including the murder charge.
But the piece was apparently taken down following remarks by Cynthia Harcourt, the attorney for county Juvenile Officer Kip Seeley, on Wednesday.
Harcourt told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Brown was neither charged or convicted in connection with any Class A or B felonies when he was shot and killed on Aug. 9 by Ferguson, Missouri Officer Darren Wilson.
A second-degree murder charge, she said, would have been listed as a Class A felony, with punishment ranging from 10 years in prison to a death sentence. Voluntary manslaughter, second-degree robbery and first-degree burglary are among the crimes considered Class B felonies. Brown, she said, faced no “serious” felony charges.
The Post-Dispatch filed a separate complaint seeking to unseal the records. Editor Gilbert Bailon said the newspaper did so following “innuendo and speculation through various forms of media” regarding the possibility that Brown had a criminal record at the time of his death.
“It is ironic that today’s new information appears favorable to Michael Brown by stating he had no record of adult or serious juvenile crimes,” Bailon was quoted as saying. “Yet some have characterized the pursuit of that information as damaging to Michael Brown.”
Earlier this year, Johnson reported that Stevie Fielder, a self-identified pastor in Meridian, Mississippi, said he had evidence that Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) re-election campaign was offering to pay Black voters $15 apiece to vote for him against challenger Chris McDaniel. Johnson paid Fielder an undisclosed sum for the interview.
However, Fielder later changed his story, saying McDaniel’s campaign paid him to make the allegation.