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

Delray Beach Vice Mayor Jim Chard stepping down to run for mayor
Delray Beach Vice Mayor Jim Chard stepping down to run for mayor

DELRAY BEACH — Vice Mayor Jim Chard, elected in March to a three-year term, will step down from the city commission to run for mayor in the upcoming municipal election. Chard, a retired business executive, filed paperwork Monday to run for mayor in the March 2018 election. He will submit a letter of resignation...
Ocean Ridge police warn residents after rash of car burglaries
Ocean Ridge police warn residents after rash of car burglaries

Town police officers are urging residents to lock their cars and keep valuables out of sight after a series of car burglaries happened this past weekend. Also, a car was stolen, according to a statement from police released Monday.  The vehicles were left unlocked. In some cases, valuables, garage door remotes and vehicle keys were left inside...
NEW: Former Florida teacher accused of giving student STD
NEW: Former Florida teacher accused of giving student STD

A former teacher in Central Florida was arrested on Saturday after accused of having a sexual relationship with a student for months, police said.  Alex Palomino, 27, faces charges of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, the Orlando Sentinel reports.  On Oct. 9, the father of the 17-year-old victim told police about the relationship when...
12-year-old girl accused of setting 10-year-old brother on fire
12-year-old girl accused of setting 10-year-old brother on fire

Police arrested a 12-year-old Alabama girl over the weekend after authorities said she set her younger brother on fire, according to multiple reports. Dothan police told WTVY that family members took the girl’s 10-year-old brother to the Southeast Alabama Medical Center on Friday night with serious burns on his body. Police investigator...
Men accused of pouring insecticide in Walmart toy department
Men accused of pouring insecticide in Walmart toy department

Two men are accused of pouring insecticide in the children's toy department of a Tennessee Walmart over the weekend, according to authorities. Millington police said the incident happened Sunday.  The men were seen on video "vandalizing property and intentionally spilling insecticide chemicals in the children's toy department,"...
More Stories