MILWAUKEE — Two men charged in the shooting death of Michael Brown, 55, were in court Wednesday, April 18 for their preliminary hearings.
Royce Bernard, 19, faces one count of felony murder as party to a crime.
Arnel Collins, 22, faces one count of first degree intentional homicide, as party to a crime, use of a dangerous weapon, and one count of armed robbery with use of force, as party to a crime.
According to a criminal complaint, Brown was found in the living room of a home near 12th and Chambers around 3:30 a.m. on July 11, 2017, suffering from a single gunshot wound to the head. His death was ruled a homicide.
A witness told investigators she and the victim had returned home from running errands around 3 p.m. that day. At one point, Brown “snuck out of the back of the home and went to buy crack cocaine,” which they smoked together that evening. They then spent the night watching movies, and were about to start another when “two armed black males entered the bedroom” and demanded she face the wall. She said she “did as she was told.” The suspects then demanded they “lay on their stomachs and not look at the suspects,” with one of the suspects yelling “where’s the money at?”
When Brown told them “there ain’t no money here,” and the woman said “we don’t got no money, I promise you,” one of the suspects responded “we know it’s in here.” One suspect then began hitting Brown, demanding that he tell him where the money was. The woman said she believed Brown was being struck by a gun. She said when she tried to get “a quick peek” at the suspects, she was struck in the head with the gun, according to the complaint.
The complaint says at one point, one suspect left the room and it sounded as though he was “ransacking the house,” while the other suspect kept an eye on Brown and the woman. Brown repeatedly told the suspects “ain’t nothing here. If I knew where the money was, I’d give it to you.”
Brown was ordered out of the bedroom by the suspects, who said “you’re gonna show us where it’s at.” After about 20 minutes, the woman said she heard one suspect say to Brown “get up on your knees.” She then heard movement, and one gunshot. She said she waited 20-30 minutes “to be sure (the suspects) were gone and then ran out of the bedroom, “jumped over Brown’s body and ran to a nearby house,” where she dialed 911.
She found two flat screen TVs were missing from the home.
The woman was able to identify the suspects in a photo array, and said Bernard was the suspect who was “doing all of the talking and directing — the aggressive one who was asking for everything.”
The complaint says another witness told investigators she heard a conversation between Bernard and Collins on July 11, during which Bernard told Collins “he was too quick to shoot,” and Collins admitted to shooting Brown “because he wasn’t giving up the money and drugs, so he did what he had to do.”
During their preliminary hearings, MPD detectives testified and motions to dismiss by their attorney’s were denied. Probable cause was found for further proceedings and they were bound over for trial. They’ll both be back in court on May 3 for their arraignments.