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Guilty Verdict in 2020 Brunswick Aggravated Assault
State v. Marcus Adrian Carmena

Aug 24, 2023

District Attorney Keith Higgins announces that a Glynn County jury returned guilty verdicts Wednesday afternoon against Marcus Adrian Carmena Jr., 20, of Brunswick, GA., for the offenses of Aggravated Assault and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. Carmena was acquitted of seven additional counts of Aggravated Assault and one count of Theft by Receiving Stolen Property.

Evidence presented at trial showed that on November 20, 2020, the victim, Keijuan Smith, 23, was on the front porch of his mother’s home on Amherst Street in Brunswick, when at approximately 5pm, the defendant got out of a vehicle and approached Smith. The two exchanged words and Carmena struck Smith in the side of the head with a handgun. He then fled the location. This was captured on the homeowner’s ring camera. A police report was made and Carmena was identified as the perpetrator by Smith.

Several hours later, a drive by shooting occurred at the Amherst Street address. A stolen white Range Rover stopped on the corner and a person, later identified as Elijah Bennett, exited the vehicle and fired multiple rounds at the home. The home was occupied at the time by Smith, his mother, father and several family members including a 13-year-old and a mentally disabled adult. No one was injured. The Range Rover had been stolen a few hours earlier and a Snap Chat video emerged showing Elijah Bennett inside the vehicle posing with a large caliber pistol. The Snap Chat account was identified as belonging to Marcus Carmena by an individual familiar with him. Carmena was not seen in the video. Elijah Bennett had previously pled guilty to the shooting and unrelated armed robbery and was sentenced to 20 years to serve. He refused to testify against Carmena.

Carmena was convicted of the aggravated assault and gun charge relating the earlier pistol whipping but was acquitted for charges related to the shooting. While no motive for the altercations between Carmena and Smith was established, both are known to law enforcement as members of rival criminal street gangs. Carmena is known to be a Crip and Smith a Gangster Disciple. Smith is currently in the Glynn County Jail charged for a subsequent shooting case.

During the presentation of the State’s case, Smith testified he didn’t know who hit him and denied ever telling police it was Carmena. The witness who had identified the Snap Chat account as belonging to Carmena tried to plead the 5th Amendment and then repeatedly answered questions with “I can’t recall.” Evidence then emerged during trial that the Snap Chat witness had been threatened over the phone the Sunday before trial. Jail calls by Carmena were also played for the jury where Carmena is heard to be sending messages through a third party to Smith to recant his identification and for someone to contact the Snap Chat witness to get him not to testify. The calls indicated that both Smith and the other witness would not cooperate with the State in Court.

According to Chief Assistant District Attorney Nigel Lush, who prosecuted the case for the State, “This case is emblematic of the battle law enforcement and prosecutors face in prosecuting violent crime, especially when gangs are involved. Victims and witnesses are afraid to testify and thugs like the defendant try to manipulate the criminal justice system through intimidation. In Mr. Carmena’s case, he should probably have listened to the jail call warnings that he was being recorded.”

The State asked for the maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, which was then handed down by Superior Court Judge Roger B. Lane. Carmena wept during sentencing.

Members of the media with further questions may contact the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at 912-554-7200.