New details revealed in Michael Brown preliminary hearing

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Several witnesses provided testimony at Michael Brown’s preliminary hearing Wednesday, June 24, including Michael’s mother, Vanessa Hanson. Following the hearing, Hanson told reporters she had been abused by her longtime boyfriend, Rodney Brown. WFXR first broke the news about the child abuse allegations against Rodney Brown in November 2019.

During the hearing on Wednesday, Hanson also testified that Rodney Brown was not Michael Brown’s biological father. Hanson recounted that on the day in question she was living in Roanoke but would occasionally visit Rodney Brown at his home in Franklin County. She says that she was visiting Rodney and watching television with him on Nov. 9, 2019. Rodney left to go outside and put antifreeze in her car. At some point in time, she heard a loud cracking sound. 

Hanson says at first she thought it was Rodney playing a joke, but she went outside and saw him lying on the ground. She says she thought he passed out. 

At that point, Michael came around her right side. She later testified that she was scared and surprised to see him. She ran inside the home, grabbed her cell phone, and called her mother. 
She says Michael entered the home, motioned her to the kitchen, and put a gun to her head. Hanson says Michael told her to tell her mother that she had just had a fight with Rodney and that she was going to eat. She then hung up the phone.

Hanson says Michael then told her to gather up all the phones in the house and put them in a bag. Michael then left the house with the bag. According to Hanson, Michael told her to wait several hours before making a phone call, but that he would leave her cell phone for her in the driveway. She went to retrieve the phone and again called her mother.

Deborah Caldwell-Bono, Michael Brown’s attorney, asked Hanson about a history of abuse within the family. Commonwealth’s Attorney A.J. Dudley objected to the question and the objection was sustained. 

Hanson said Michael had a “crazy look” in his eyes that day in November and did not look like himself. Hanson says she saw Michael about a week before the alleged murder and that Michael told her he was no longer Michael. According to Hanson, Michael said he wasn’t a child anymore and would hurt Rodney if he beat her again, but Hanson says she never heard Michael threaten to kill Rodney.

An investigator also testified that when Michael Brown was located at Rodney Brown’s home, ending a manhunt that lasted more than two weeks, a Virginia State Police officer noticed Brown climbing down from an attic. He was holding a handgun and a book. Upon questioning by Caldwell-Bono, the investigator said that Michael threatened to kill himself unless he could take the book with him. According to the investigator, the officer told Michael he wasn’t concerned about the book.

Following the hearing, Caldwell-Bono said she could not disclose what the book was, but that it was very important to Michael. She anticipated that it would come out at trial.

The case will now go to a grand jury.

After the hearing, Caldwell-Bono declined to elaborate on the abuse allegations but said she expects more details to come out at trial. She expects the case will be heard before a grand jury the first week in July.

When asked how she was feeling after the hearing, Hanson replied, “I’m feeling sad and I’m feeling…it’s a miserable situation. I have my husband and then I have my son. I mean what kind of-put yourself in my situation. How would you feel?”

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