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Jury deliberating in Camden Co. case of man charged in woman's death after deputies killed her

Camden County deputies killed Latoya James while serving a search warrant in May 2021. Varshan Brown, her cousin, is charged with her death.

WOODBINE, Ga. — Prosecutors rested their case Wednesday, while Varshan Brown's attorneys said they would have someone testify on Thursday. That did not happen. Instead, the defense rested its case Thursday morning and Brown decided to not testify. Closing arguments wrapped up around 11:15 a.m. 

On May 4, 2021, Latoya James, 37, was with Brown at his home. Camden County deputies showed up to Brown's house shortly before 5 a.m., armed with rifles. After ramming the door open, authorities say Brown shot at deputies. When they fired back, both Brown and James were injured. However, Brown survived. James was killed.  

"If Varshan Brown had not shot at police on May 4, 2021, Latoya James would still be alive," District Attorney Keith Higgins said. "We would be here for cocaine possession." 

The prosecution started closing arguments. District Attorney Keith Higgins showcased to the jury the weapon Brown used to shoot at police and the cocaine he kept in his home. He said Brown was ready to shoot at law enforcement. On the night of the fatal incident, deputies said they recalled seeing a "red light" when they approached Brown's home. One deputy recalled the moment motion sensor lights went off. In one body camera body that was presented to the jury, a deputy can be heard saying "they know we're here." An EMT who was called to testify on Tuesday, recalled Brown saying "I knew you were coming and I was waiting for you." Higgins said deputies did not know James was present, but Brown did. Prosecutors pointed out how Brown shot at law enforcement five times. Tobe Karrh, Brown's attorney and public defender responded saying law enforcement shot 13 times. 

"Varshan Brown has no one to blame for Latoya James' death but himself," Higgins said pointing at Brown to the jury. "He's the one who caused her death." 

James' mother, Betty Jean, left the courtroom and appeared upset when Higgins did that. The family is not blaming Brown for her death, but the way law enforcement handled the serving of the search warrant. They believe authorities should have taken the time to find out who was in the house before entering. An unidentified vehicle was parked at Brown's home when deputies showed up. James borrowed her best friend's car to visit Brown. The defense, however, responded by saying there is beyond a reasonable doubt in this case. 

"This case is pure chaos!" Tobe Karrh said. 

Karrh questioned the timing when authorities knocked, announced, and rammed the door open. The defense attorney asked aloud how come the deputies' higher-ups who were involved in serving the search warrant, were not testifying. He claimed his client didn't see law enforcement because the lights to their weapons were blinding, nor did he have time to respond to the door knock. Karrh said Brown didn't know law enforcement entered his home. On the topic of cocaine possession, he said there wasn't evidence of Brown having items indicating he sells drugs. Karrh said "no weight, no sale." He continued to call this case a "snake bite."

The prosecution was able to rebuttal with another closing argument. Higgins said it's not about policy or how long deputies waited at the door. He said the issue is "the point of indictment" and Brown's not-guilty plea. 

Brown, 49, is facing life in prison with the possibility of parole. The charges he's facing include: felony murder, aggravated assault on a public safety officer, and possession of cocaine with the intent to sell. 

Jury deliberations are next. 

Credit: Camden County Sheriff's Office
Varshan Brown is charged with murder in the death of cousin who was shot by Camden County deputies in May 2021.

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