CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A man who was released from death row in Florida more than two decades ago and now accused of murdering his wife Thursday night in north Charlotte has been arrested.
Charleston police arrested Joseph “Shabaka” Brown at a Holiday Inn Express on Friday afternoon.
Police said Brown murdered 71-year-old Mamie Caldwell Brown at the Oaks Apartments on Shadow Oaks Drive around 9 p.m. Thursday night.
CMPD detectives have traveled to Charleston to bring Brown back to Charlotte to face murder charges.
Brown spent 14 years on death row in Florida after a murder conviction before being released in 1986. Brown, who also goes by the name Shabaka WaQlimi, relocated to North Carolina from Washington, D.C. in 2010, according to ncronline.org.
He was convicted of raping and murdering Earlene Treva Barksdale in 1974. Barksdale was the wife of a prominent lawyer in Tampa, Florida, but a key witness who testified at the trial later admitted to lying. The witness claimed he heard Brown confess to the murder but retracted those statements.
Brown’s lawyer at the time was Richard Blumenthal, currently a Democratic Senator in Connecticut.
Brown, 62, was freed after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 1985 that blood and ballistics evidence showed he was innocent and the prosecution intentionally hid that evidence. He was released a year after that ruling, and the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office did not retry him.
Brown is one of just a few hundred people to be freed from death row on innocence or dropped charges in the last 40 years, according to ncronline.org. He was just 15 hours from execution on October 17, 1983 before a federal judge issued a stay.
Mamie Brown died in what is being described as a brutal fight and was hit stabbed with a knife and another blunt object, police said.
It’s believed that Brown is driving his wife’s car, a light blue 2009 Chrysler 300L with North Carolina license plates AKW-5682. He has several known ties to various east coast cities.
Brown claimed to have restored faith in God while in prison, and even spoke at anti-death penalty conferences over the last few decades.
In a July 1999 article in the St. Petersburg Times, Brown said, “You put a man in a cage and treat him like a dog, talk to him like a dog, feed him like a dog . . . there’s gonna come a time he wants to bite like a dog."