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Family of domestic violence victim resists efforts to reduce murder charge

Tina D. Brown

Tina Brown was killed last year. | Provided

The brother of a woman who was murdered by her boyfriend is fearful that justice will fall short in this domestic violence case.

Gregory L. Pearson, 50, is about to go to trial on first-degree murder charges; he’s accused of killing Tina D. Brown last year.

But there’s an effort by public defenders to get the charges reduced to second-degree murder because the couple had a history of domestic violence, according to James Brown, the victim’s brother.

“If he gets second-degree murder, his sentence will only be from 2 to 8 years and he is going on his second year in jail,” Brown said.

“He could end up getting time served and never go to prison. That would be an injustice. My sister was murdered,” he added.

OPINION

“We have spoken to the victim’s family and they are aware of all the evidence and circumstances in this case. Beyond that, it is inappropriate for us to comment as the case is pending,” Tandra R. Simonton, a spokesperson for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, wrote in an email.

Brown described his sister’s relationship with Pearson as “on and off.” It ended with his sister being fatally shot in the head.

Pearson left a note at the scene claiming the shooting was in self-defense.

Brown acknowledges the couple had physical altercations in the past.

“Every time my sister would try to get a restraining order, he would run and get one first. My sister was 175 pounds and 5-foot-9. This guy is 280 pounds and 6-foot-4, and he beat her face in so bad it was a miracle that the funeral home could do anything.”

African-American women experience “intimate partner violence” at a rate 35 percent higher than that of white women, and about 2.5 times the rate of women of other races, according to Justice Bureau statistics.

Women of color are also less likely than white women to use social services, battered women’s programs or go to the hospital because of domestic violence, according to the website, “Women of Color Network.”

Pearson went missing for weeks after the murder.

Gregory L. Pearson

Gregory L. Pearson, 50, is about to go to trial on first-degree murder charges; he’s accused of killing Tina D. Brown last year. | Chicago Police Department

Dissatisfied with the work of detectives in this case, Brown said he and his sister’s oldest son went on a “manhunt” for Pearson.

The pair staked out the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond for two days because Pearson was known to frequent the craps tables.

Pearson was finally tracked down at a motel in Lansing where police found a handgun prosecutors believe he used to kill his girlfriend.

With no bail, Pearson has been in the Cook County Jail since June 10, 2017.

Tina Brown was the mother of four and had five grandchildren.

“It hurts. The public defender was saying that they had past domestic violence disputes and [Pearson] had always put in the paperwork. But he only ran to the police because he knew she was going,” Brown said.

His mother, who lived in the same apartment building as his sister, apparently heard the gunshots, but thought nothing of it because gunfire was prevalent in their South Side neighborhood.

“When my youngest niece came home about five hours later, she found my sister with her legs locked up and crossed, lying on her stomach. The guy left her lying in a pool of blood and wrote a note,” Brown said.

There is no record that Pearson called 911 after shooting his girlfriend.

Pearson told police Brown “put a knife to his throat” during an altercation. A “blood-stained” knife was found about a foot-and-a-half from the woman’s body, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

The Violence Policy Center, an advocacy group dedicated to reducing gun violence, says nearly three women are murdered every day by current or former intimate partners.

It is routine for public defenders and prosecutors to negotiate plea deals in homicide cases.

And previous fights in which Pearson filed “paperwork,” coupled with his clean criminal record, may have prosecutors worried that they could lose a jury trial.

But they should let the chips fall where they may.

There’s no excuse for a man to shoot his girlfriend in the head and leave her dying.

Even if she had a knife, Pearson was able to get away.

And there were other things he could have done besides pulling the trigger — like run.

Isn’t that what most of us taught our sons when they were boys?

Whatever you do, don’t hit a girl.

First-degree murder is the most serious homicide charge.

When it comes to domestic violence, there should be no room for negotiation.