Sudden guilty plea ends murder trial

Willie T. Seaward III
Willie T. Seaward III

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A sudden twist brings a Richmond murder trial to an abrupt end. As the evidence piled up, a young murder suspect stopped the whole thing with a guilty plea.

Willie Seaward III, 23, was accused of gunning down 20-year-old Michael Brown not far from a case that had more than just one victim.

The victim's mother walked out of court, with a desperate message.

"Please, young people, I'm pleading with you. Please stop the violence," said Jacqueline Brown.

Jacqueline Brown lost her son, Michael Junior, back in March. The 20-year-old was fatally shot in a downtown alley following a fight that began inside Club Aurora.

"It is bad when our young people can't even go out to celebrate a birthday and make it back home to their parents safely," said Jacqueline.

In court for the last day and a half, prosecution witnesses implicated 23-year-old Willie Seaward as the gunman. Suddenly, a tearful Seaward made a guilty plea, moments before his attorney would've begun arguing his case.

"Mr. Seaward was never glad that Michael Brown was dead. He wasn't glad that someone else's mother....he wasn't gloating about that situation at all," said Defense Attorney Cary Bowen.

The case was notable not only because it involved young men, a gun, and a popular club. But also because of another loss.

"I'm just so sorry that my husband is not here to see this," Jacqueline said.

Before an arrest was made, Michael Brown Senior made headlines in March with this emotional news conference talking about his son: "He was my best. My very best. And for him to be gone, it doesn't make sense."

The elder Brown died just two months later of complications from diabetes. Family members said the grief over his son's murder was just too much.

Family and prosecutors believed he would've been happy with today's outcome.

"This is a good win for the commonwealth," Prosecutor Thomas Johnson said.

Willie Seaward faces up to 43 years behind bars. He'll be sentenced in January the deal called for Seaward to plead guilty to "second" degree murder, instead of "first" degree murder. It was the same deal that prosecutors offered before the trial started.

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