Man gets life sentence after 2016 murder of Marshall student

Almost two years after the murder of former Marshall student Derick Brown, Joshua McDowney entered a no-contest guilty plea to first-degree murder Tuesday.

McDowney was in court Tuesday when Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell accepted his Kennedy plea. A Kennedy plea allows for a defendant to admit guilt to a crime without admitting his involvement in the crime.

Courtenay Craig, McDowney’s defense attorney claimed in court that his client had no previous criminal record and the situation was harmful for everyone involved.

“This is all two situations gone terribly, terribly wrong,” Craig said. “It’s a waste of potential on both ends.”

Kresta Brown, Derick Brown’s mother, was present at the hearing on Tuesday. She gave a victim impact statement explaining how painful the entire ordeal has been for her family.

“You have no idea what you took from me,” she said. “From everyone. His dad, his friends, his grandparents.”

Kresta Brown went on to explain that her son had been trained to use guns properly but would have felt too guilty if he had injured McDowney.

“He had target practice and knew about guns, but he chose not to take your life and gave you a warning,” Kresta Brown said. “I know if Derick would have hurt you or killed you, he wouldn’t have been able to live with himself.”

At approximately 2:20 a.m. Feb. 28, 2016 an intruder reportedly entered an apartment on the 1500 block of 4th Avenue wearing a full-face toboggan and carrying a pistol. Upon entering, witnesses claimed the intruder hit a man in the face with his weapon.

Witnesses also stated the intruder entered into a physical altercation with Derick Brown. The altercation led to Brown firing his weapon first, missing McDowney. McDowney fired back multiple times and hit Brown directly in his heart.

McDowney reportedly fled the scene and was stopped by police on 3rd Avenue. When stopped, officers stated the suspect had a cut on his forehead. During investigation, the police found a jacket, a bloody full-face toboggan and a pistol.

According to Huntington police, officers discovered $7,500 in cash, a gun and various drugs. Testing later proved the blood on the toboggan matched McDowney’s DNA.

While searching McDowney’s residence, officers discovered an empty gun box that consisted of the same serial number as the pistol discovered by police. Ballistics testing proved that shell casings found at the scene matched the pistol officers discovered.

The matching DNA, serial numbers and shell casings led to the arrest of McDowney.

Joshua McDowney was sentenced to life with mercy. McDowney will be eligible for parole in a minimum of 15 years. He is currently residing in Western Regional Jail and is waiting to be transferred to the prison system.

Sarah Ingram can be contacted at [email protected]