BROOKLYN, N.Y. (PIX11) — The mother of a gay 19-year-old man who was found dismembered in a subway tunnel in 2005 lashed out at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday for not moving forward with a second trial against convicted killer, Kwauhuru Govan, on the eve of jury selection.
“The way I took it, if it wasn’t a guaranteed ‘win,’ then they didn’t want to do it,” Desire Brazell, the victim’s mother, said.
The retired NYPD detective who arrested Govan after an extensive investigation in 2016 and 2017, Jasan Palamara, went a step further with a scathing Facebook post.
“The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office will say there has been evidence discovered since the grand jury that has unfortunately changed the direction of the investigation,” Palamara wrote. “This will be a lie.”
Prosecutors from the office of District Attorney Eric Gonzalez had been meeting with Rashawn Brazell’s mother in the weeks and months before jury selection was supposed to start.
They said Govan’s defense had an alibi claiming he was taking driving courses in St. Louis when Rashawn Brazell was killed and dismembered.
“Following a thorough investigation of the case and the alibi presented by the defendant, our office determined that in the interest of justice and due to the passage of time we cannot disprove the defendant’s alibi beyond a reasonable doubt,” a spokesperson for the district attorney said. The DA declined a TV interview, stating the Govan indictment in the Brazell case had been dismissed and sealed.
Govan was arrested for another cold case murder, the 2004 strangulation of teenager Sharabia Thomas, after PIX11 News received a tip about her case in 2016.
The Cold Case Squad retested her fingernail scrapings and learned the DNA was a match with Govan, who was released from a Florida prison on a robbery conviction around the same time.
Govan lived two blocks away from Sharabia Thomas, 17, on Gates Avenue in Brooklyn.
The teen disappeared on her way to a high school field trip.
Rashawn Brazell lived across the street from Govan, also on Gates Avenue.
Police said they received information that Govan considered Brazell’s homosexuality an “abomination.”
Police built a case against Govan in the Brazell murder that did not rely on DNA evidence. They said a black bag found with Brazell’s body parts on the A train line was very similar to one used by Govan’s wife in her job.
The bag, though, was destroyed by flood waters during Superstorm Sandy.
The Facebook post by retired detective Palamara continued in its criticism.
“They needed to make their argument, yet fold their hand is what they did,” Palamara said. “The perpetrator in this case, who was not unfamiliar to taking a life, was identified and evidence was presented to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office who found it to be sufficient to present to a grand jury. An indictment was returned and preparation for trial began.”
Desire Brazell said her son once aspired to be a social worker to help homeless people, a job that she held in Washington Heights when he disappeared on Valentine’s Day 2005.
Rashawn Brazell was supposed to take his mother to lunch for the holiday.
“I feel like I failed my son,” the mother said of the tossed indictment. “I fought. I fought as hard as I could. But it hurts, because of the way he was murdered.”
She said prosecutors seemed content to have Govan in prison for the other murder.
“They’re saying to me, ‘Ok, we got a conviction on the other case. Be happy, Ms. Brazell. He’s never going to get out,'” the mother said.
She said it seemed like the office didn’t want to take the case to trial because of manpower issues and money.
“You either go all the way or nothing at all,” the mother said.
She said a jury should have decided the case.
“Let a jury decide,” Desire Brazell said. “You’re not a jury.”