HILLSBOROUGH — The last of the six main co-defendants in the killing of Josh Bailey in 2008 is standing trial for first-degree murder in Orange County Criminal Superior Court.
Brandon Hamilton Greene, 32, is accused of being in the garage at the home of group ringleader Brian Minton when Bailey, 20, was bound and kidnapped. He then went with the five other co-defendants when they walked Bailey into the woods where Matt Johnson shot and killed Bailey under Mintons order, according to previous trial testimony.
The trial continues this week at the courthouse in Hillsborough after opening arguments were entered last week.
Greenes attorney, Barry Winston, in his opening statement, told the jury that Greene was not part of the crew that committed crimes together, that he was not part of the group that tried to cover up the murder by digging up and moving Baileys corpse, and that he was not part of the group that later kidnapped and beat Matt Johnson.
It is my prediction that you will almost certainly hear no evidence from Mr. Woodall that Brandon Greene killed anyone, Winston said.
Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall, in his opening statement, said Greene participated in the conspiracy, kidnapping and murder and later helped cover up the crime by arranging the sale of the 9 mm handgun used to kill Bailey.
In June 2012, Brian Minton was found guilty of first-degree murder after a three-week trial that spelled out the sordid and gruesome details of the crime, including how they dug up Baileys decomposing corpse and reburied it near Jordan Lake.
In Mintons trial, one of the star witnesses was Jack Johnson II (no relation to Matt Johnson). Jack Johnson told the story of their crimes matter-of-factly, even though he was one of the key participants in every single aspect of the kidnapping and murder of Bailey and their attempts to cover up the crime.
On Thursday, Jack Johnson once again took the stand to tell the story from beginning to end. He told how he, Brian Minton, Jacob Maxwell, Matt Johnson, Ryan Lee and Brandon Greene kidnapped and murdered Bailey.
It began after some members of the group committed a couple of break-ins and a home invasion in Greensboro. Then some members and their girlfriends began to suspect that Matt Johnson had been stealing from them and snitching to police, and they decided to confront him in the Mintons home garage, where Greene stood by with a .38-caliber handgun.
During the confrontation with Matt Johnson, Matt Johnson began to shift blame onto Josh Bailey, who knew the members of the group but did not participate in any of their crimes. The group them summoned Bailey to the garage, where they eventually zip-tied and duct-taped his hands together, and drove him to the woods, where Minton ordered Matt Johnson to shoot him.
It has taken years for all the defendants, including Brian Mintons parents, to face a judge and be sentenced for their crimes.
A jury found Brian Minton guilty, and he was sentenced to life in prison, but the rest of the defendants except Greene have entered into plea agreements, pleading guilty to lesser charges, and been sentenced to prison.
Jack Johnson has entered into a plea agreement that requires him to testify truthfully against his co-defendants. He will be sentenced once all the cases have been resolved.
Greenes trial is expected to last two to three weeks. He is also charged with first-degree kidnapping and conspiracy to commit first-degree kidnapping in the case.