Convicted murderer found guilty on felony charges

Published 9:47 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A man convicted of murder by a Dale County jury in 2012 has now been found guilty of two more felony offenses including the possession of four stolen firearms, two of which were assault rifles.

The jury found Everett Rico Newson guilty of second-degree receiving stolen property in connection with the stolen guns as well as violating a law that forbids people convicted of a violent felony from possessing firearms.

The argument of the day was whether the state could prove that Newson possessed the firearms, which were found in a bedroom closet at his girlfriend’s residence on March 16, 2017.

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“Nobody will be able to tell you today that they saw (Newson) in direct possession of these firearms,” said Brandon Coots, Newson’s attorney.

District Attorney Tom Anderson argued to the jury that the prosecution could show, however, that Newson was in “constructive possession” of the firearms.

“I am in direct possession of my keys,” Anderson said as he removed them from his pocket to show the jury. “But I also have a pistol in my vehicle, which is constructive possession.”

Anajuana Fuller, owner of the residence where the guns were found, entered a plea deal with the prosecution to reduce her charges to misdemeanors in exchange for her testimony.

Coots told the jury that the deal could be considered as evidence in their deliberation. “The prosecution’s star witness is a convicted felon,” Coots said. “She’s a rat testifying today to save her own hide.”

Fuller attested that Newson did frequently stay at her residence on Barr Street where the search warrant was executed on March 16 and was even there that very morning.

“He had a key,” Fuller said. “He would come in and out all night.”

Brundidge Police Chief Moses Davenport further corroborated Newson staying at the residence, saying he saw Newson in the area of the home on the day that the search warrant was executed.

Davenport said that the residence was also where he would drop off payments to Newson for odd jobs including yardwork.

Anderson submitted further evidence of Newson’s frequent residence at the home including the fact that Newson’s ID card was found on the living room couch, his parole papers and a letter from the circuit clerk found in the bedroom where the guns were, and male clothing found throughout the house.

Coots argued that someone other than Newson could have come in and placed the guns in the closet, noting that Fuller had stated the lock to the residence was broken.

He cross-examined the law enforcement officers called to the stand, as well as Fuller, who all attested that they had never seen Newson in direct possession of the firearms.

Other witnesses called by the prosecution included Joseph Anthony Corsey, who testified that the guns were stolen from his Pike County residence; Sheriff Russell Thomas; Lt. Troy Johnson; and U.S. Deputy Marshal David Onfrey. The defense did not call any witnesses to the stand.

The majority of Onfrey’s testimony dealt with the apprehension of Newson in the woods near his mother’s home on March 24.

Onfrey testified that dog handlers that had brought in beagles to help locate Newson found tracking collars removed from the dogs. One of the tracking beagles, he testified, came back with a gash on his head and blood coming from his nose and ears.

The jury found Newson not guilty, however, on the charge of interfering or harassing with a police animal.

Newson remained stone-faced throughout the majority of the trial, only shaking his head in disagreement when the jury returned the two guilty verdicts on the felony charges.

After the verdict was returned, the state was then allowed to argue two aggravating circumstances to the jury to determine whether Newson could be sentenced pursuant to the Habitual Felony Offenders Act, which gives the judge the option of sentencing Newson from 15 years to life. The Class C Felonies would typically be punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison on each count.

Anderson presented to the jury two potential aggravating circumstances including a history of violent felonies which included the murder charge and a second-degree assault charge, and the fact that Newson was on probation when the offenses were committed.

The jury returned that the history of violence was not an aggravating circumstance, but the fact that Newson was on probation for his murder charge at the time of offense was found to be an aggravating circumstance.

Anderson must show at least three prior felonies at the time of sentencing to allow for the extended sentencing options.

Newson’s sentence will be determined on May 15 at the Pike County Courthouse in the main courtroom.