Piedmont police Chief Freddie Norton said Monday that he measured time Friday by how many inches of snow were on the ground around the scene where a man had been beaten in the head.
Norton said Saturday that police officers responded to a home in the 600 block of Draper Street around 2 a.m. Friday and found Marion Brown, 53, unconscious and with a head wound. The chief said when officers responded to the home it was cold but there wasn’t any snow.
According to the National Weather Service in Calera, portions of Calhoun County saw 10 inches of snow by Friday evening. That caused some issues as Piedmont police investigators worked on the case Friday, Norton said.
“It was an odd circumstance to be in,” the chief said.
Brown was taken to UAB Hospital in Birmingham where he later died of his injuries, Norton said.
“We knew shortly after he got there that he was brain dead,” the chief said. “It was about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday that I got a text from my investigator that he’d died.”
Before Brown died, though, police already had Edward Maurice Johnson, 40, in custody, charged with assault, the chief said.
“I don’t know exactly what time it was but I do know there was about 8 inches of snow on the ground,” Norton said. “I know it was dark by that time, but not too long after it got dark.”
Norton said on Saturday that Brown and Johnson got into an argument during a gathering at the Draper Street home that led to the victim’s injury. The chief previously declined to say what led to the argument, but on Monday said he “wasn’t sure what it was about.”
“It’s kind of not clear,” he said. “We’re still working through a lot of things today.”
During the day many roads became backed up with vehicles as snow continued to fall. Most cities closed their roads by early morning.
“Most of the crime scene was inside the house so we needed a search warrant,” Norton said. “The District Attorney’s office used their humvee to bring Judge (Brian) Howell to Piedmont to sign a search warrant.”
Brown is the 24th person in Calhoun County to die by violence this year and the first homicide case for Piedmont police. Norton said while this is the first homicide in Piedmont for the year, his officers have been busier this year than they were last year at this point.
“Normally we start trailing off with calls and reports but we’re not,” he said. “We’re staying pretty busy.”
Norton said for January through October this year, the number of violent crimes — assaults, domestic violence and homicide — have surpassed all years back to when their digital record system began in 2007.
“Last year we had more violent crimes than we’ve ever had,” Norton said. “And this year we’ve surpassed that. I wish I knew why it’s become that way.”