Tuesday, October 26, 2021

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One protester’s charges dismissed; trial for another bumped to next week

A Graham man who had been charged with illegal possession of a weapon during a demonstration in downtown Graham last fall has had his case dismissed.

Russel Paul Brady, 24, white male, of 2843 South N.C. Highway 87 in Graham, who had been charged with possession of a firearm at a parade/demonstration and with carrying a concealed gun without a concealed carry permit on Saturday, September 19, 2020, according to his court file.

Russel Paul Brady near Sesquicentennial Park near Historic Court House in downtown Graham on September 19, 2020.                                                                             Photo credit: Tony Crider.

State law prohibits possession of a dangerous weapon at a parade, funeral procession, or demonstration – with exceptions for law enforcement, military personnel, and individuals who hold a valid concealed carry permit.

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Both charges are classified as low-level Class 1 and Class 2 misdemeanors, carrying a maximum penalty of probation, community service, or 120 days’ jail time, depending upon a defendant’s prior criminal history.

Brady appears to have no prior criminal record, according to documents on file with the Alamance County criminal courts system and the state Administrative Office of the Courts.
Though Brady’s case was listed on the docket for the latest round in the “2020 protest trials” in district court Wednesday morning, his defense attorney, Brad Buchanan of Graham, resolved the case outside of court.

Brady’s charges were dismissed in exchange for completing 50 hours of community service prior to his trial date, Alamance County assistant district attorney Kevin Harrison confirmed Wednesday morning for The Alamance News.

Brady was arrested about a week after a protest in downtown Graham on Saturday, September 19, 2020, when he was photographed with a “firearm on his hip” while walking through Court Square, according to the Graham police department.

Graham police subsequently investigated to verify the then-unnamed individual shown in the photo and arrested Brady on September 26, according to a police department spokesman.

One trial bumped to next week
Meanwhile, the trial that had been scheduled Wednesday for another protester who was charged on Halloween day last year, during the “I Am Change Legacy March to the Polls,” has been postponed until next Wednesday.

Brendan Jamar Kee, 28, black male, of 645 Creek Ridge Road, Greensboro, is charged with four misdemeanor offenses: two counts of resisting a public officer; public disturbance; and failure to disperse on command. State law classifies all three charges as a Class 2 misdemeanor, carrying a fine and/or maximum penalty of community service, probation, or 30 to 60 days’ jail time, depending upon a defendant’s prior criminal record.

Kee appears to have no prior criminal record, according to documents on file with the Alamance County criminal court system and the state Administrative Office of the Courts.
Still photos captured from video footage recorded at the October 31 march and rally in downtown Graham appeared to show Kee in the middle of a struggle over a gas-powered generator that Alamance County sheriff’s deputies had attempted to confiscate after discovering it had been brought onto the grounds of the county’s Historic Court House, in violation of the permit issued for the event.

The struggle with sheriff’s deputies trying to remove gas-powered generator. Kee has been described in previous testimony as the man with the red bandana around his mouth and neck.

Numerous sheriff’s deputies and high-ranking officials within the department have testified at earlier trials that the facilities use permit that had been granted for the event required any sound amplification equipment to be battery-powered.

Terrance Lee of Greensboro testified two weeks ago that he had provided logistics assistance during the march and rally on October 31. He said the organizers, Rev. Gregory Drumwright of Greensboro and his organization Justice 4 the Next Generation, had asked him to transport the generator during the march so that speakers could be heard as they walked.

Kee earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical, electronics, and communications engineering from N.C. A&T University in 2015 and a Master of Divinity degree from Wake Forest University in 2018, according to his online biography. He currently teaches math and serves as a student services support/math tutor for Guilford County schools, in addition to serving as a minister and co-outreach director for the Citadel of Praise Church with Drumwright and volunteering with several nonprofit organizations.

In his video testimony on August 11, Lee described how he’d wheeled the red Honda generator in a cloth beach wagon, with a speaker attached on top, along the march route.

The march started at Wayman AME Church along North Main Street and ended at the county’s Historic Court House with a brief rally. While participants originally planned to proceed from the courthouse grounds to an early voting site at 201 West Elm Street, the rally was declared an illegal assembly after a deputy was injured during the struggle over the generator and pepper fog was deployed to clear the courthouse grounds.

Kee’s attorney, Jason Keith of Greensboro, told retired visiting district court judge Lunsford Long, III of Orange County Wednesday that his client was entitled to a continuance due to an amendment to the original statement of charges for the failure to disperse offense.

“I would argue it’s prejudicial to Mr. Kee,” Keith told Long Wednesday morning. “I hate to say it, your honor, but I am asking for additional time.” The defense attorney said that the assistant D.A., Harrison, had emailed him last Friday, notifying him about the amended statement of charges.

State law grants prosecutors the discretion to amend a statement of charges, arrest warrant, or other “charging documents” at any time, as long as the change doesn’t alter the nature of the underlying offense.

However, Keith pointed out that three working days’ notice is required for any amendment that is likely to alter his defense for Kee.

Following a brief recess to review the matter en camera, Long agreed. “I do think it’s my duty to give you the time that you are entitled to under the statute,” he told Keith.

Harrison agreed to reschedule the trial for next Wednesday, September 1.

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