Fishersville man found guilty of 2020 Staunton murder
STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - UPDATE 7/1/2022: A Staunton Circuit Court judge found Ja’Quez Brown found guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Bruce Williams.
Brown was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery, attempted robbery, and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Around 10:50 p.m. on July 9, 2020, police were called to respond to reports of gunshots at the Spring Hill Village Apartments in Staunton.
First responders found a man lying on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds. He was identified as Bruce Williams and was pronounced dead. Investigators say there were multiple bullet casings around Williams and he had cash in his hand.
During the second and last day of the trial on Friday, forensic evidence was examined and a number of people testified including Brown’s cousins Brendan and Cameron Bahle.
Cameron Bahle was with Brown on the night of the shooting and was charged with murder in connection to this base.
Bahle testified that he and Brown had originally planned to rob Williams during a drug deal but Brown ended up shooting and killing Williams.
According to a medical examiner’s testimony, Williams was shot at least six times.
Both Bahle and Brown then fled to Georgia to stay with Brendan Bahle.
Brendan Bahle was in communication with his brother and cousin during the planning of the robbery and in the aftermath of the killing.
He testified that Brown told him he shot and killed Williams but the defense questioned both of the brothers credibility as both have admitted to lying under oath previously.
The defense also cited Brendan Bahle as an unreliable witness, catching him in multiple lies during the trial.
A record was played of Bahle reading a transcript of one of his testimonies in a prior hearing to his brother while he was in prison.
The defense seemed to insinuate that the brothers were conspiring to pin the killing on Brown.
While the judge expressed doubts about the Bahle brothers credibility, she ultimately felt there was enough evidence to back up their claims that Brown was the one who shot and killed Williams.
On Thursday, Investigators testified the cash found in Williams hand had sequential serial numbers, which led them to believe the money had recently been collected from an ATM or bank. Eventually, they were able to determine it came from DuPont Credit Union, and surveillance video shows Brown and Cameron Bahle withdrawing money from that ATM.
Brown was driving the car, but the money was withdrawn from Bahle’s account, according to testimony.
Investigators said Bahle was their first suspect, but phone records tracking Brown to the Spring Hill Village Apartments with Bahle that night led them to have probable cause for his arrest. After they acquired warrants, they were able to get that security camera footage at the ATM, as well as surveillance footage at a local gun store that shows Bahle buying ammunition that matches what was found at the scene: Sig Sauer Caliber 40.
That purchase was on July 8, and Brown was with him in the store.
Many testimonies were read, and those witnesses were quickly dismissed. The absence of a jury also sped up day one of the trial. It’s a bench trial, meaning Brown has waived his right to a trial by jury.
Primarily, the judge heard from law enforcement officers on Thursday.
Brown will be sentenced in Staunton Circuit Court on Thursday, October 13, 2022 at 11 a.m.
Bahle will appear in court on July 14 on charges of robbery, use of a firearm in a felony and first-degree murder.
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