Murder trial in Powhatan resumes Wednesday

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

POWHATAN, VA (WWBT) - A high profile murder trial continues Wednesday in Powhatan county.

The Commonwealth has rested its case.  The defense is still putting on its witnesses.  Jury deliberations could begin by mid-morning.

Suspect Dennis Merchant, Junior, faces numerous charges including second degree murder in the stabbing death of Rashad Brown.

The Powhatan Undersheriff said extra security was brought in for the trial, but so far, all has been quiet at the courthouse.

On the eve of the trial, people who live here didn't want to talk, on camera, about the deadly stabbing that rocked the community nearly nine months ago.

"They want to avoid confrontation. We're not used to having this happen so they don't want to make a big scene about it," said longtime resident Susie Kendrick.

Emotions ran high last May 13th, when Rashad Brown and two others were wounded in a fight on Bell Road. At the time, people in the community said the fight stemmed from a long-standing feud.

Merchant's attorney reportedly said his client was defending himself during a "free for all."

"I remember I was coming home from work. We were literally, like two minutes after it happened. I saw all the police and everything," said Kendrick.

Brown died in the post office staff parking lot off Anderson Highway after a wounded victim drove him there for help.

Because of the nature of the trial, additional sheriff's deputies will be at the courthouse.  Powhatan authorities have also asked Virginia State Police for assistance.

The Commonwealth summoned 20 witnesses. The defense plans to call 4. The trial is expected to last two days.

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