As jury deliberates murder case, suspect pleads guilty to manslaughter


While a Palm Beach County jury was deciding whether to convict him of murder, Brandon Small on Thursday instead pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2014 shooting death of a Delray Beach man.

Small, 28, of Riviera Beach, was immediately sentenced to 15 years in prison — far less than the life sentence he faced if he was convicted of murder. He also pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The surprise outcome came after the jury had been deliberating for roughly 10 hours over three days. Assistant State Attorney Lauren Godden claimed Small shot 53-year-old Jocelyn Fleurimond during a drug deal in a parking lot of an apartment building on Auburn Circle North in Delray Beach.

Small and his cousin, 26-year-old Harry Dachoute, contacted Fleurimond to buy “lean,” a street term for codeine, an opiate that abusers mix with Sprite, Mountain Dew or other drinks to provide a euphoric high. A struggle ensued and Fleurimond was shot in the chest. He died several days later.

When arrested by Delray Beach police, Small denied any involvement. Dachoute in December pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a firearm and being a felon in possession of a handgun. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

According to witness testimony, Dachoute went into an apartment in the building to make the purchase and encountered Fleurimond, a stranger, between the time he left the apartment and returned to the parking lot.

The friend who drove the cousins to the building said he handed his gun to Small after they saw Dachoute and Fleurimond struggling. The friend said Small then fired in Fleurimond’s direction.

“He purposely chose to leave the car, to aim, and to shoot,” Assistant State Attorney Lauren Godden said of Small during her closing argument Tuesday.

Police initially arrested Dachoute, who eventually led them to Small. According to arrest reports, Small told police that he wasn’t at the apartment complex the night Fleurimond was killed and hadn’t been to that apartment complex in years.

Defense attorneys Ruth Estes Martinez and Jennifer Klee told jurors that Small wasn’t the shooter and implied that the gunshots may have come from another direction.

“He had nothing to do with the shooting that night,” Estes Martinez told jurors.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Chef Mario Batali leaves 'The Chew' amid sexual harassment allegations
Chef Mario Batali leaves 'The Chew' amid sexual harassment allegations

Chef Mario Batali is stepping down as co-host of ABC’s cooking and lifestyle show “The Chew” after being accused of sexually harassing and inappropriately touching women, USA Today reported. Multiple anonymous women alleged in a story by food-trade publication Eater New York that Batali had groped their breasts or buttocks...
4-year-old Chicago boy reads 100 books in one day
4-year-old Chicago boy reads 100 books in one day

Reading is fundamental for a 4-year-old Chicago boy. It’s a lot of fun, too. Caleb Green staged a reading marathon Saturday, completing 100 books, WLS reported. Every time he finished 10 books, including his favorites about dogs and Ninja Turtles, he did a little dance. Caleb’s parents decided to stream his book binge on Facebook Live...
JUST IN: Man gave cosmetic injections without license, PBSO says
JUST IN: Man gave cosmetic injections without license, PBSO says

A man operated without a license a West Palm Beach medical practice that gave cosmetic injections to patients, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said Monday. Alexander Elliot Gonzalez, 50, of suburban West Palm Beach is facing a charge of practicing medicine without a license for operating a practice on North Flagler Drive near Good Samaritan...
Vote tonight in Jupiter on New Year’s Eve fireworks at Harbourside 
Vote tonight in Jupiter on New Year’s Eve fireworks at Harbourside 

 New Year’s Eve fireworks at Harbourside Place — a longtime issue between the town and the owners of the $150 million waterfront entertainment complex — is up for a vote tonight, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. at town hall.  Thumbs down was the response the last time Harbourside Place officials asked permission from the town...
Jane Fonda reunites with ‘favorite ex-husband’ Ted Turner for her 80th birthday bash
Jane Fonda reunites with ‘favorite ex-husband’ Ted Turner for her 80th birthday bash

Jane Fonda was joined by her “favorite ex-husband” Ted Turner and friends to celebrate her 80th birthday at The Whitley in Atlanta Saturday night.  James Taylor and Carole King performed and then helped Jane blow out candles.  Other famous friends at the “Eight Decades of Jane” celebration included including...
More Stories