For five years, the shocking fatal shooting of Jennifer Jeffrey, 31, and her 7-year-old boy in their Southwest Baltimore home went unsolved.
But law enforcement continued to work the case, and federal prosecutors announced an indictment Wednesday of a 37-year-old man in connection with the killing.
Authorities say Andre Ricardo “Poo” Briscoe carried out the May 27, 2015, shooting in the Uplands neighborhood as part of a drug-related robbery. The indictment also alleges that Briscoe shot little Kester Browne, known as Tony, multiple times, including in the head and mouth, to prevent him from communicating with law enforcement.
“These murders are shocking and unconscionable," U.S. Attorney Rob Hur said in a statement. "This indictment should make one thing crystal clear: If you touch a witness, especially a child, the full weight of federal law enforcement will be harnessed to find you and bring you to justice. And we will not stop investigating until we bring to justice anyone else who was involved.”
Briscoe’s attorney, William Purpura, told The Sun that his client had been identified as a possible suspect and questioned early in the case. Purpura questioned why authorities brought charges now, saying they were filed right up against a statute of limitations deadline to such federal charges.
“It’s kind of perplexing and mysterious and concerning to Mr. Briscoe,” he said.
Although murders typically don’t have a statute of limitations under state law, federal prosecutors can only bring homicide charges if they are tied to another crime, such as drug trafficking, which are subject to the filing time limits.
Prosecutors said the ATF, FBI, Baltimore Police and Cambridge Police on the Eastern Shore collaborated on the case. Briscoe was first arrested in May, on drug and firearms charges tied to the date of the killing. But details were redacted from later filings.
However, in an opinion late last month, Judge Richard D. Bennett outlined some facts of the case that allege that Jeffrey “was a heroin dealer and that Defendant Briscoe was her weekly or twice weekly customer.”
Bennett wrote that Briscoe’s attorneys argued in a sealed filing that Briscoe claims to have been with his cousin on the morning of May 27, 2015, and that, later in the day, he was dropped off on Broadway Street near the Perkins Homes neighborhood in East Baltimore. The killing is believed to have occurred between late morning and early afternoon that day.
Purpura said Wednesday that the defense will be able to show that Briscoe was in Cambridge, where he was primarily living at the time.
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“There’s going to be an issue of when the killings actually occurred,” Purpura said.
The indictment does not spell out how authorities developed the case.
Jeffrey and her son Tony were killed during the surge in violence in the spring of 2015 following the uprising after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Forty-two people were killed in May of that year.
Tony was killed in his pajamas, and was remembered as a standout second-grader, whose principal described him as a “gentle soul.”
Relatives could not be reached for comment Wednesday. In comments that proved prescient, Tony’s family said previously that the family felt like the person responsible must have been someone Tony could have identified, which may explain why the killer took his life, too, lest the boy become a cooperative witness. They thought if that was true, the suspect couldn’t be too far away, or too hard to identify.
If convicted of the murders, Briscoe faces a maximum sentence of death or life in prison. Briscoe also faces death or a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted of the witness tampering murder; a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years in prison for the conspiracy to distribute and for possession with the intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin; and a maximum of 10 years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Briscoe remains in federal custody on his previous indictment and is expected to have an initial appearance on the new charges in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.