Sheila Phipps

Fine Art Studio Online Gallery

My Road to My Wrongful Incarceration

Sept. 14, 1994, I decided to jump in my car and go by a friend of mine name Michelle Sims. At the time, she worked for Charles Foli as a duty. When I arrived at her house somewhere between 11:00 and 12:00, Michelle was with her girl friend Tiffany Green who stayed next door from her. Tiffany was dating a friend of mine, Ricky Black. I decided, “Let’s go pick up Ricky and come back over here by Michelle’s house.” So Tiffany, Michelle and I got in my car and drove to Ricky’s apartment. Once Ricky came down, we headed back to Michelle’s house. I remember making a stop on Roger Drive for what reason I’m not sure but, once back at Michelle’s, we got out of the car, sat on the hood and began to socialize. Ricky and Tiffany were on the other side of the car socializing. After some time went by, I I can recall Tiffany and Ricky getting into an argument. Tiffany went into her house, which was next door. Ricky stood around while Michelle and I talked.

After more time passed, a red vehicle passed, a horn honked, and an arm came out hollering at Ricky, who was still out there by himself. Ricky said it was Dewitt heading toward the apartments. You could see this little car was packed inside. Anyway, Michelle, Ricky and I got in the front seat of my Delta ’88 and headed towards the apartments. When we arrived Dewitt’s car was empty and he was talking to a dude named Willie Brown. When he saw my car pull up with Ricky inside, he walked over, spoke to everyone, then proceeded to talk to Ricky about taking a ride to Baton Rouge for I ask the purpose of picking up some clothes and staying by his mom awhile. His mom stayed in New Orleans East, about a mile from the apartments we were in. I ask to ride along. Dewitt wasn’t quick to respond, but I was allowed to ride. So Ricky jumped into Dewitt’s vehicle. He knew where I stayed, so I dropped Michelle off and they met me at my apartment. I parked my car, got in the backseat of Dewitt’s car and we headed to picked up clothes from his apartment in BR then, after a few minutes on the interstate, I see him exiting in Carrollton. Dewitt turned the music down and stated he had to pick up his roommate in order to bring him to work this morning.

So, we stopped at some house and Dewitt went and knocked on the door. It took a few minutes, but someone finally came to the door. Dewitt talked to him a couple minutes outside of me and Ricky’s presence. They both got in the car. His roommate, Burnell Richardson, got in again. Dewitt stopped at a gas station, where gas and a pint of vodka was purchased. After we all had about half of a six-ounce cup, we got on the interstate, music back up loud. You could see Dewitt talking to Ricky up front, but you couldn’t tell what was being said. After arriving at Dewitt and Burnell’s flat, Dewitt showed us how he was practicing to be a barber. Brunell, Ricky and I sat on the sofa. Dewitt grabbed the remote and started stating how he wanted to see if it was on the news. I didn’t know exactly what time it was or when the news came on, but when the news came on, it spoke about a rapper that had been killed in his home by three men. The news stated the three men were in a dark colored Cherokee. Dewitt cut the TV off and started talking as if he had to kill this man. I was told Dewitt shot this man in the top of the head ‘cause the man rushed at him with his head down.

After the news was turned 0ff, Dewitt asked me to bring his roommate to work in Port Allen, La. ( West Baton Rouge Parish). I told Dewitt I didn’t know anything about BR or Port Allen, and I would only get lost. He then stated we would all go bring him-me, Ricky, Dewitt and Burnell. Once the roommate was dropped off, Dewitt then drove us to an area and said the black jeep under a tree was the vehicle used in the crime. Dewitt then stopped near an alley and asked us to help him look for the guns they had thrown in the grassy alleyway. Not understanding why, Ricky and I helped Dewitt look but didn’t find any guns in the grass. So we got in Dewitt’s car and headed to McDonald’s. after ordering breakfast for all of us, Dewitt decided he wasn’t hungry, so I ate his food. We headed back to New Orleans, Dewitt dropping Ricky off first, then me.

Then about five days after being in Dewitt’s company, I hear he’s been arrested `murder. I figured he did say he had Killed someone, so he’s now having to man up for his wrongdoing. But then, three days after that, I get a page from Willie Brown-a fellow Dewitt had asked to take this same ride to BR to pick up his clothes that night-telling me that his mom, who stays in BR, told him that I was wanted in BR for that murder with Dewitt.
With my mom working for NOPD, I went to her to let her know what I had just been told. My dad told me that if I did it, he’d get me a plane ticket back to Cali. I told him I did no such thing and I refuse to run for something I didn’t do. I then told my mom to call her job and find out if I was really wanted for a crime. She called. They called her back and told her what I was wanted for. I told my mom to tell them to come get me and once they see they got the wrong person, I’ll be back in three months. NOPD came and got me. These are the things that happened these are the things I was told.

On September 23, 1994, I was taken into custody by BRHD (Baton Rouge Homicide Division). I was then brought to the station for questing. I had told the detectives everything I was told and what I had witnessed on the morning of September 14, 1994. What I did not know was that Dewitt was not telling detectives the same story he told me, Ricky and Brunell what happen that night we were pick up. Dewitt told the detectives he had been Kidnapped and brought to his drug supplier against his will. I found this out while waiting to be indicted or not. It made it seem as if I knew something that only a person at the scene could know, but I was told by Dewitt, and now he was telling a different story. Well, after 85 days I was indicted for the murder of Kevin Evans. I was given a Public Defender (Greenway), who came and saw me a few times and filed a few motions. Then about 11 months later, I find out I had been indicted again-this time for three counts of kidnapping and one count Second Degree Murder of Kevin Evans. No motion were filed to find out more about the three new charges. When given copies of the three motions previously filed, rather than continuous, they had all been whited out and now signed by another lawyer-another Public Defender that was given to me.

Never was I given a copy of police reports, or witness descriptions, or anything even after asking my PD for them. A trial date was set, but then it was set back. During this set back, the state was able to track down and violate one of their witnesses and hold him until my trial date. Burnell Richardson showed up in his orange attire.

The witness recants his statements to my PD two different times. The taped statements were made out of fear for Burnell’s safety. Also, three other witnesses showed up that put me in New Orleans at the time of the crime. I have not been asleep for the last 22 years. It has been difficult. I was not on the scene, did not participate nor have knowledge prior to what I was told by Dewitt after the fact. I have obtained police reports.

  • The Crime Lab stated that apparent skin was found under the victim’s nail-clipping. I argued I should have been made aware of these findings. The State argued that it wasn’t enough skin present, but didn’t the defense have the right to get these samples tested? With all this technology today, could these nail clippings be tested today? Court says even if they came back negative, that still wouldn’t take me off the scene. My argument; if defense was made aware and had the clipping tested, and it traced back to the person Dewitt said was involved, would that have been material? Dewitt stated being with three people but never stated Brian Berry as being with him. This material would have been what was needed to put this investigation on the right track. This would have made Dewitt’s story of who he was with believable, credible.

  • My lawyer never had a report where Stephanie Evans stated that all she could remember is one of them was light-skinned. I obtained these reports after conviction. In trial, Ms. Evans stated she tried to give a pretty good description of me (Brian Berry) to the police that night. I was the only one she got a good look at ‘cause I was in the light. My PD could never question the witness about this light-skinned male because we were never aware of it. I’m a very dark-skinned male.

  • My Public Defender asked Ms. Evans if she could describe and of the other perpetrators in her house that night. Ms. Evans said, “I wish I could. He (Brian Berry) was the only one that was in the light. I wish I could describe the others but I can’t”.

The higher courts U.S. 5th Circuit spoke for the witness even after I directed them to her words above in transcripts. Courts ruling; maybe she was trying to describe one of the other perpetrators.

I’ve met an offender up here some years ago. He told me that was his cousin that they killed. He (Reginald Evans) spoke to his cousin’s wife Stephanie. She couldn’t truly say I was in her house the night her husband got killed. The detectives led her to believe that since I was with Dewitt that morning, I had to be one of the three. Reginald then stated to me that Stephanie told him she only saw a light-skinned male that night. That was shocking ‘cause only my police report had that description. That let me know he had talked to her and may really be kin. And she may possibly be willing to tell the truth about what she may or may not have seen, and being coerced.

For more information contact:

Brian Berry at Angola State Prison, Louisiana
Wolf-2, Camp C
Zipcode: 70712
DOC# 310295

Email - / Brian Berry