Taking the witness stand in his murder trial this week, Antonio Brown told jurors he was attacked before he fatally stabbed Pedro Carmoega while trying to escape a confrontation on Columbus’ Big Creek Drive on Independence Day 2017.
The confrontation followed Brown’s riding a three-wheel motorcycle past a Big Creek Court home where Carmoega and his family had gathered to celebrate the holiday. The victim’s brother, Michael Carmoega Sr., thought Brown was going too fast with his 6-year-old son on the bike, and yelled for him to slow down.
Brown testified the brother didn’t just yell as he passed, but got in front of him and grabbed the handlebars, forcing him to stop, and told him, “You need to stop speeding up and down this m----r-f-----g road.”
Brown rode on, after that, but the Carmoegas decided to follow him to get a tag number. Michael Carmoega Sr. left in a Cadillac, and his brother Pedro Carmoega and son Michael Carmoega Jr. followed in the son’s white Toyota Tacoma pickup.
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It was after dark, around 9:45 p.m. in a neighborhood off Double Churches Road west of a bridge over Interstate 185. Big Creek Drive turns north off Double Churches Road and curves to the west, with Big Creek Court its first left turn and Big Creek Place a left turn after that.
Brown testified he had been test-driving the bike, which he was working on. After his run-in with Michael Carmoega Sr., he rode back to his home on Big Creek Place, dropped off his son and continued trying the bike out.
He rode back up Big Creek Place to Big Creek Drive to turn east, and that’s where a white pickup truck tried to cut him off, he said. Continuing east, he came upon a car parked along the road, and then a second car came up alongside it, blocking his path, the headlights shining in his face, he said.
As he stopped there and got off the bike, Michael Carmoega Jr. came running up to him, he said: “He was jumping around with his fists balled up, yelling, ‘What’s up? What’s up? What’s up?’” Brown heard doors slamming and others approaching, so he pulled out a knife and said, “I’m not going to let y’all jump on me.”
Michael Carmoega Jr. replied, “If that’s how you want to play it,” and ran off, Brown said. He then realized his bike was rolling away, and someone hit him as he ran to catch it, he said. Then Pedro Carmoega grabbed onto the bike, and hit a switch that cut the engine off, he said.
Brown restarted the bike, and began slashing backhanded at Pedro Carmoega with the knife as he throttled up to get away, he said. He did not know he had stabbed the man in the chest and cut his throat, but remembered slashing his arm.
He made a U-turn and went home, where his wife called the police.
His account differed significantly from Michael Carmoega Jr.’s testimony on Tuesday. That witness said Brown drove head-on at his white pickup on Big Creek Place, got off his bike and approached the driver’s side saying, “Come on, b---h!”
His uncle got out of the passenger’s side and walked to the driver’s side of the pickup to block Brown’s approach, before Brown stabbed the uncle in the chest and cut his throat, the nephew said.
Pedro Carmoega grabbed at his throat as Brown got back on the bike to leave, and the wounded man began to fall and grabbed the passing bike to balance himself, the nephew said. Slashing backhanded with the knife, Brown left a gash on Pedro Carmoega’s arm and dragged him 10 to 15 feet, the witness said.
Carmoega died of his injuries days later in the emergency room.
Though Brown, 42, now is on trial for murder, police initially decided he was the victim and the Carmoegas were the aggressors, and filed misdemeanor assault charges against them.
After further investigation, they dismissed the Carmoegas’ charges in July 2018. On Nov. 20, 2018, a Muscogee County grand jury indicted Brown on charges of murder and aggravated assault.
He has claimed self-defense under Georgia’s “stand your ground” law, which authorizes the use of deadly force to “prevent death or great bodily injury” to oneself or others or to prevent a forcible felony.
The law says someone confronted with such a threat “has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground.”
Besides murder, Brown is charged with aggravated assault in Pedro Carmoega’s stabbing.