New sentence sought for convicted murder

Published 9:30 pm Friday, January 31, 2020

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The Pike County District Attorney’s Office asked Judge Shannon Clark on Friday to set aside a sentence previously set for Tige Townsend in his guilty plea to the 2017 murder of Xavier Thomas.

Tige Townsend pleaded guilty to the murder in 2018 in exchange for a 20-year sentence of which only five would be spent in prison. The plea deal was arranged to have Townsend testify against codefendant Demarcus Flowers.

However, Assistant District Attorney Jon Folmar said Townsend reneged on testifying against Flowers within days of making the agreement.

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The agreement was based on Townsend’s testimony that Flowers was the driver of a car that pulled into the Walding Circle parking lot in Brundidge on May 29, 2017, so that shooter Jacory Townsend could shoot Thomas. Tige Townsend also agreed to testify that Flowers orchestrated the hit on Thomas. Jacory Townsend was previously convicted and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the crime.

Tige Townsend first told police that he himself was the driver of the vehicle, as did two other people believed to be in the car at the time of the shooting. However, in his third statement to police, Tige Townsend stated that Flowers had driven the vehicle, which Folmar said became the basis of the plea agreement.

“It was an essential part of that agreement that he would tesify that Flowers was the driver and ordered the hit,” Folmar said. “He would have been an instrumental part of our case. We ahd to change our entire philosophy of how we were going to try Demarcus Flowers at the last minute because he backed out.”

Tige Townsend stated during the hearing that he did not refuse to testify at Flowers’ trial, only that he wanted to testify to the truth.

“I would have perjured myself if I said Demarcus Flowers was driving,” Townsend said.

Defense Attorney Susan James argued that it would be “inherently unfair under the circumstances to try to void his plea agreement.”

James argued that Sgt. Charles Beasley of the Brundidge Police Department told Townsend that he “would walk” if he testified against Flowers and that he “without knowledge” supported perjury. The state contends that there is no evidence Beasley ever told Townsend a guilty plea would allow him “to walk.”

“The state wants to penalize him for telling the truth against his own interest,” James said. “Asking to punish him for telling the truth is inherently unfair.”

Folmar countered that penalizing Townsend for telling the truth is “way beyond what we’re doing.”

“We’re punishing him for lying,” Folmar said. “For perpetuating fraud, not only to the D.A.’s office, but to the court itself. That’s what he is being punished for.”

Clark took the motion under advisement and will issue a ruling soon on whether to move forward setting aside the sentence. If the sentence is set aside, a new sentencing will be set for Townsend.