HINESVILLE Ga. (WSAV) – The trial of a soldier accused of murdering a man he found with his wife ends with a plea deal before a jury could be seated.
Jermaine Ray Mealy is pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the June 2015 shooting death of Nathaniel Brown.
It happened in Mealy’s home in Hinesville a day after Mealy learned his house was burglarized while he was away for military training in Texas. His wife told him everything was okay and police were investigating. Mealy notified his commanders of the incident and then drove to Hinesville, where he said he found Brown in boxer shorts in the bedroom with his wife, Lisa.
Michael Schiavone, Mealy’s attorney, says an altercation ensued and during the scuffle, there is “evidence that shows Brown went to the bed and pulled a .45 caliber handgun from under a pillow in my client’s marital bed and then fired a shot that missed my client.”
“The weapon used actually belonged to Brown and he took a shot at my client who was simply acting in self-defense,” said Schiavone, adding the plea agreement is in Mealy’s best interest because a murder charge carries a life sentence. Prosecutors called it, “a crime of passion.”
Two of Brown’s family members made statements in the hearing. Nigel Brown, the victim’s brother, addressed the court first, saying his four-year wait for justice has been torture. He called Mealy a coward for taking away one of the most important people in his life, his brother.
“Lord knows I can’t forgive you. This is an injustice,” Brown said in a raised voice as he pounded his fist. “You got remarried, my brother can’t do that. I’m trying to mind my mouth here in court.” Brown accused Mealy of using his brother’s death to gain status in a “one-percenter motorcycle club.” He went on: “I know you killed my brother. It should be a life for a life. A life term in prison for you for taking my brother’s life.”
DyAsia Brown, the victim’s daughter, told Mealy she forgives him, even though it’s hard and her father’s death has triggered debilitating panic attacks that continue. “I have to believe you felt there was no other option than to kill my father,” she said in a trembling voice.
Mealy retired from the Army as Chief Warrant Officer 2 following the incident. Schiavone says Mealy served five tours in Iraq, four of them in combat where he was awarded two bronze stars.
But Brown’s family members say Mealy is no hero.
The hearing concluded in less than an hour and Mealy will serve no jail time. He was sentenced to 20 years probation, with 5 years suspended.
He was also given a behavioral date, meaning he must stay out of trouble for 3 years according to Schiavone. Mealy had no felony record prior to the shooting. He must also pay a $500 fine if he does not attend anger management counseling.