Jurors return verdict in trial of 2 charged in brutal screwdriver murder

Erica Brownlee (left) and James Tyshawn Pinkard. (Jail photos)
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) Jurors in Belton returned a guilty verdict Friday evening in the trial of a man and woman charged in the death of a Central Texas man who was stabbed to death with a screwdriver during a robbery.

Jurors reached the verdict after about six hours of deliberation Friday.

James Tyshawn Pinkard, 23, of Killeen, and Erica Brownlee, 20, were convicted of murder for the March 7, 2017 death of Rocky Marsh, 38, who was found unconscious and not breathing after a report of a robbery just after 8 p.m. March 7, 2017 at the Morgan Manor Apartments at 1506 Bundrant Dr. in Killeen.

Marsh was taken to Seton Medical Center Harker Heights where he died.

A preliminary autopsy identified the cause of death as a penetrating wound to the chest that pierced a lung and the heart, the affidavits said.

Pinkard and Brownlee will be sentenced on March 6.

The state and defense rested Thursday.

Closing arguments started at 9 a.m. Friday.

Shamar Lamar Lewis, 19, of Killeen and an unnamed juvenile were also arrested in connection with the murder.

Lewis remains jailed in lieu of bonds totaling $700,000, according to online records.

He will be tried separately, officials said.

Brownlee told investigators that Pinkard and Marsh had argued at a convenience store and that Marsh had pulled out a small silver knife, according to arrest warrant affidavits.

She said that she and Pinkard left the store to pick up Lewis and the unnamed juvenile, and returned to the area where they spotted Marsh walking in the 1500 block of Bundrant, the affidavits say.

She told the investigator that she pulled into the parking lot and that Pinkard got out of the vehicle with a crowbar, while Lewis and the juvenile told her to open the trunk.

“Erica then reports that she sees Shamar (Lewis) hitting the victim in the back of the head,” the affidavit said.

Then she said she saw Lewis and Pinkard rifling through Marsh’s pockets, talking his phone, knife, lighter and cash, the affidavit said.

She said Lewis told Pinkard “that he had stabbed the victim in the back of the head and used Pinkard’s screwdriver,” the affidavit said.

Lewis told an investigator he also hit Marsh with a saw, the affidavit said.

After the attack, she told investigators, she dropped Lewis and the juvenile off, and then she and Pinkard returned to Pinkard’s home with the stolen items, the affidavit said.

Investigators found a small hand saw in the parking lot where the attack occurred, and a search of Pinkard’s vehicle turned up a screwdriver with what appeared to be blood on it as well as what appeared to be bloodstains in the backseat of the vehicle and on the vehicle, the affidavit said.