Police: Former death row inmate arrested for wife's murder

Joseph Green Brown (Courtesy: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department)
Joseph Green Brown (Courtesy: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Police have arrested the husband of an elderly woman who was murdered late Thursday night in north Charlotte.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police received calls Thursday night from people worried about a woman at The Oaks Apartments, just off Harris Boulevard.

Officers got to an apartment on Shadow Oaks Drive at about 9 p.m. Thursday and found Mamie Caldwell Brown, 71. Police say she suffered some kind of trauma.

CMPD roped off part of the building and called in homicide investigators. They spent several hours collecting evidence, and talking to potential witnesses.

Friday afternoon, police issued a murder warrant for Joseph Green Brown, the victim's husband.

Police said Brown, who is known to use several aliases, including Shabaka WaQlimi, was arrested Friday in Charleston, South Carolina.

Brown was located at a Holiday Inn Express on Savannah Highway, and arrested by Charleston Police without incident, according to CMPD.

Detectives from Charlotte went to interview Brown in Charleston. He was then transported to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office, where he remains in custody.

WBTV has learned that Brown was convicted in 1974 of raping and murdering Earlene Treva Barksdale, the wife of a prominent lawyer in Tampa, Florida.

Brown spent 13 years on death row before an eleventh-hour ruling saved his life. The Northwestern University School of Law published an article after charges against Brown were dropped just hours before his execution. It said he was released in 1987 when an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling found the prosecution purposefully allowed false testimony at trial.

The article states that two witnesses falsely testified against Brown, and that the prosecution allowed it.

One witness, according to the article, testified that he and Brown had committed an unrelated robbery together. During cross-examination, the witness said that he had not been promised anything for his testimony. It was later found that witness struck a deal with the prosecution.

The article also says that the prosecution falsely told the jury that a handgun Brown gave police when he was arrested was used in the crime. FBI ballistics tests eliminated that possibility.

A video on YouTube, entitled 'Speaking After Death Row,' shows Brown talking about his trial and his time in prison. He is also seen talking to students and groups about the ordeal.

"We were taught at a young age that life is sacred," Brown says in the video, "I'm not against capitol punishment, I'm not for capitol punishment; I'm against killing."

If you have any information that may aid in this case, you're asked to call (704)432-TIPS and speak directly to a Homicide Unit Detective. You can also call CrimeStoppers at (704) 334-1600.

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