Hamilton man pleads guilty in St. Clair Twp. fatal shooting

A Hamilton man admitted guilt today in the May shooting death of Maurice Chatman in St. Clair Twp.

Eric Brown, 20, of the 900 block of South Second St. was charged with murder, tampering with evidence and having weapons under disability and scheduled to go to trial later this month.

But Brown took a plea deal today in Butler County County Common Pleas Court, pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter with a gun specification, as well as other two charges. In exchange for the plea, Brown was sentenced to 18 years in prison by Judge Greg Howard.

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Brown was in the same courtroom last week for a hearing on a motion to have statements he gave to police thrown out at trial. Attorney Lawrence Hawkins III argued statements Brown made to sheriff’s deputies during hours of questioning after the May 29 incident were illegally obtained because his Miranda warnings were not read to Brown when he was taken to the sheriff’s office.

According to court records, Brown told deputies he shot in self-defense.

Brown was questioned by Butler County Sheriff’s detectives shortly after Chatman was found dead outside a car near the intersection of Eaton and Warwick roads about 6:40 p.m., according to court documents.

Brown said he was a back seat passenger in a car driven by Chatman when Chatman stopped the vehicle “and demanded money from him and threatened to shoot him,” according to court documents obtained by this news organization.

During the suppression hearing, interrogation tapes were played for the judge showing Miranda warnings read to Brown four times.

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Howard was scheduled to release a ruling on the motion to suppress, but both the defense and prosecution said the case would be resolved with the plea and the agreed-to sentence.

Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Joshua Muennich said before the plea was entered that the victim’s family and detectives had been consulted and agreed it was a just outcome.

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