Judge dismisses murder charge, says shooting of transgender teen was self-defense

Jalen Brown

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Jalen Brown

Murder charges against an Athens man involved in the fatal shooting of a transgender teenager at an apartment complex were dismissed Friday, Clarke County Superior Court records show.

The judge dropped the malice murder, felony murder and related charges filed against Jalen Breon Brown, 22, calling the incident an act of self-defense, according to court records.

The charges related to the shooting death of 17-year-old Rayquann Deonte Jernigan, who was known to family and friends as Ave Le’Ray Barrin.

The June 2017 shooting took place in the parking lot of the Riverview Apartments off College Avenue after an argument between Brown and Jernigan, Athens police said.

RELATED: Man claims self-defense in transgender teen's shooting death, faces murder charge

Police said the argument was the result of a feud between transgender groups, the Athens Banner-Herald reported.

At some point, Brown pulled out a gun and shot Jernigan in the chest, which he claimed was in self-defense, police said. Jernigan was taken to a nearby hospital, where she died.

In January 2018, Brown was indicted on murder charges.

MORE: Athens man indicted in killing of transgender girl

In March, Brown filed a motion stating he was immune from prosecution since he shot Jernigan in self-defense, court records show. Judge Eric Norris granted the motion and dismissed the indictment based on testimony from a May hearing, the Banner-Herald reported.

Norris granted Brown’s motion because “a reasonable person in (Brown’s) situation would have believed that shooting Jernigan was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm,” according to court documents.

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The man was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in critical condition, Atlanta police said.