In Staten Island, the Arlington Terrace apartment complex in the Mariners Harbor section of the borough has a long history of violent events associated with its past. On July 1, 2012, Genard Droughn, a resident of North Carolina kept the housing development’s reputation intact. Droughn was originally from the neighborhood but moved away in 2010. However, he often made trips back to visit members of his family.
Just as a jury was about to be assembled in the murder trial against him, Droughn agreed to a guilty plea of first-degree manslaughter in state Supreme Court, St. George, for the killing of Brian Norwood who was found dead in his car at 55 Holland Ave. Norwood and his girlfriend were apparently sleeping in the gold Nissan Altima, when Droughn shot him three times in the parking lot of the apartment complex. A source close to the investigation said Norwood was visiting the resident of the complex, and she had accidentally locked them out of her apartment. The source also mentioned that it was Norwood’s first time visiting Staten Island. Norwood was the father of three children and also left behind an aggregate of seven brothers and sisters.
The police found the victim’s body at around 7:40 in the morning. He was shot in the chest, back, and left arm, according to the same source. He was later pronounced dead after being taken to West Brighton’s Richmond University Medical Center.
There was no evidence that Droughn and Norwood even knew each other and the motive for the murder still remains a mystery. An unspecified law enforcement official said that they were looking into the possibility that the shooting may have been a circumstance of mistaken identity.
However, Mr. Norwood himself was not a model citizen. According to police sources, Norwood had an extensive rap sheet with at least11 arrests in New Jersey including charges of weapon possession and assault, to shoplifting and being in possession of counterfeit Compact Disks. The same source described him as a productive armed robber in his own hometown. “He’s sort of a drifter now, not really staying in one place,” said a another law enforcement official. He sustained at least three felony convictions according to public records. One of which was for a drug offense in 1999, another for aggravated assault in 1994, and most recently in 2007, a conviction for making terrorist threats as well as aggravated assault.
It took law enforcement less than a week to track down and arrest Droughn who fled to Charlotte, North Carolina where he was apprehended in a townhouse, where he lives with his two children and their mother. He was visiting relatives who lived on Staten Island during the time that he shot and killed Norwood.
A neighbor, Caroline Narducci, who was questioned about the latest incident, said “I’m tired of all this nonsense with the shootings. I didn’t see anything, but all I know is that some mother had to wake up on a Sunday morning and find out her son was killed.” Narducci’s apartment faced the crime scene.
An assortment of factors influenced the offer of the plea deal, primarily that the murder weapon wasn’t found. Ballistics demonstrated that it was a.40-caliber handgun. “The certainty of a verdict when weighed against the evidentiary difficulties and uncertainty of a trial, led to this being the best possible outcome in this case.” stated District Attorney Daniel Donovan. Although when a spokesman from Donovan’s office was questioned on the topic of problems with proof, he declined to comment further.
Droughn’s attorney stated that the negotiated sentence and plea was “a fair disposition considering all of the facts and circumstances of the case.”
Based on the terms of the plea agreement, Droughn will serve thirteen years in prison. At the end of that term he will submit to an additional period of five-years of supervised release. He will be sentenced later this week on Oct. 9.
As previously mentioned, the neighborhood itself has been a focal point of many violent episodes throughout the years. Last September, Samyah Bailey, was shot in the left eye by a fragment of a stray bullet. She was 22 months old at the time of the incident. In September 2010 Jerome Mitchell, 23, suffered gunshot wounds when he was shot in the lobby of the same building where this most recent shooting took place; 55 Holland Ave., and in November 2009 Jermaine Dickerson, 37 was also killed within the confines of the complex; similarly in a parking lot.
A conviction for the charge of murder can produce overwhelming consequences; from long-termed prison sentences to life in prison and in some cases the death penalty. An insightful attorney will usually advise a client to accept a plea deal when the situation calls for it and one becomes available. Although a conviction for manslaughter will still return a significant prison term the alternative to a conviction for murder by a jury can be much more punitive.
If you, a friend, or family member is charged with the crime of murder it is essential that you retain a qualified defense attorney who has experience in murder cases to provide the best possible outcome of a trial, or to suggest the best way to move forward if a plea agreement is offered.
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To contact Mr. Cohen in the tri-county area of Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties in South Florida, call him at 954-928-0059 or 561-366-8200.