Camden Jury Renders Verdict in 2021 Death of Latoya James
State v. Varshan Lamont Brown
Sept 15, 2023
District Attorney Keith Higgins announces that a Camden County jury returned guilty verdicts on September 14, 2023, against Varshan Lamont Brown, 49, of Woodbine GA, for the offenses of Aggravated Assault Against a Police Officer (two counts), Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute; Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon During Commission of a Crime; and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Brown was found not guilty of Felony Murder.
Evidence presented at trial showed that on May 4, 2021, at 04:45 am, Camden County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Drug Task Force officers were at the known residence of the defendant, Brown, in Woodbine, GA, for the purpose of executing a “knock and announce” narcotics search warrant. Officers Downy Casey and Michael Blaquiere were at the front of the entry team. Officer Casey was holding a ballistic shield in his left hand and his issued duty weapon in his right hand. Officer Blaquiere knocked and loudly announced “Sheriff’s Office, search warrant, come to the door.” When no one answered, the officers breached the door and made entry. Upon entry, Officer Casey yelled out to the other team members that there was an open door to the left. As they approached the open doorway, Officer Casey placed his shield and body in front of the threshold of the door and observed Brown standing beside the bed with a female (later identified as Latoya James) standing beside him. Officer Casey yelled to the individuals to “get on the ground” several times. Instead of complying with the officers’ commands, Brown raised a .45 caliber Glock pistol and began firing at the officers. Officers Casey and Blaquiere returned fire toward Brown, which unfortunately resulted in a bullet fragment striking James. After the exchange of fire, CCSO officers continued to clear the residence and rendered aid to both Brown and James. Although Brown survived his injuries, James tragically died at the scene.
The case was prosecuted by District Attorney Keith Higgins and Senior Assistant District Attorney T. Clifton Woody, II. Higgins, who asked the jury to hold Brown responsible for the death of Latoya James, stated, “Individuals need to be held fully responsible for the crimes they commit and the consequences of those acts. Varshan Brown chose to fire at the officers who were lawfully executing a narcotics search warrant at his residence. Although he did not directly cause her death, he knowingly placed Latoya James in harm’s way.”
Following the jury verdict of guilty for the offenses of Aggravated Assault Against a Police Officer (two counts), Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute; Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon During Commission of a Crime; and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, Superior Court Judge Roger B. Lane sentenced Brown to the maximum possible sentence for each crime, for a total sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole, with a consecutive term of imprisonment of 55 years. Brown will have to serve 30 years before he is eligible for parole on the life sentence, and he will be required to serve the entire imprisonment of 55 years without the possibility of parole.
Brown has an extensive criminal history going back to 1994, including six prior felony convictions, which includes two prior aggravated assaults in which he used a handgun.
Members of the media with further questions may contact the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at 912-554-7200.