DALLAS — The Dallas man accused of abducting and killing 4-year-old Cash Gernon faces new charges after authorities learned of the attempted kidnapping of a toddler from her grandfather’s home in February.
Darriynn Ronnell Brown, 18, was charged last week with burglary and injury to the elderly, according to Dallas police officials. His total bail amount now equals more than $1.6 million.
The toddler in the February case was a 2-year-old girl.
Brown has been jailed since last month, when he was charged with kidnapping and burglary in Cash’s May 15 abduction. The boy was taken as he slept from the bed he shared with his twin brother, Carter.
A jogger found Cash’s barefoot and bloodied body nearly two hours later, lying in the street about eight blocks away. The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the boy had been stabbed multiple times.
Brown had not been charged with the child’s murder as of Wednesday morning.
A security camera at the Florina Parkway home where Cash and Carter were staying captured footage of the boy’s abduction. The footage, obtained and made public by the Daily Mail, shows a man fitting Brown’s description entering the darkened room about 5 a.m. that day and hovering for several minutes over the bed where the toddlers slept.
He then quickly lifts the sleeping Cash from the bed and leaves with the boy.
Monica Sherrod, who was the boys’ guardian at the time, identified the abductor as Brown, a former classmate of one of her sons. She told the Mail that Brown had visited her family’s home a few days before the homicide and that he’d interacted with the slain boy.
That made her angry, Sherrod said.
“I told him, ‘Don’t come back around my kids. I don’t want you here,’” Sherrod said.
Additional footage from the camera shows Cash’s kidnapper returning a couple of hours later, after daybreak, and similarly hovering over Carter. The man, who appears to be startled by a noise elsewhere in the house, leaves without the boy.
Watch the footage below, courtesy of the Daily Mail.
By that time, Cash’s body had been discovered in the 7500 block of Saddleridge Drive.
Carter is later seen waking up and looking around the bed for his missing brother.
The motive for Cash’s abduction and killing is unknown.
Three days after the boy was slain, a man contacted investigators to tell them that Brown was the man who had broken into his home Feb. 8. Court records obtained by CBS Dallas-Fort Worth indicate that the man said an intruder entered his house and started going through rooms and closets.
The man told detectives he heard the burglar and, grabbing a knife from the kitchen, ordered him to leave. The elderly homeowner said he managed to get the intruder out of the house, but the man tried to kick in the door leading from the garage into the home.
When the homeowner opened the door to confront the man again, the assailant punched him in the face, the affidavit states.
The intruder then walked into the alleged victim’s living room, grabbed his 2-year-old granddaughter from the couch where she slept and carried her toward the garage.
According to the CBS affiliate, the homeowner managed to pull his granddaughter from the intruder’s arms. She was “startled and began crying when she awoke to Brown holding her,” the court document says.
Despite the apparent attempt to take the child, the homeowner decided against pressing charges, the news station reported.
The man told police he ran into the intruder, who he identified as Brown, two weeks after the incident at a local Walmart. He said Brown approached and apologized, saying he was “sorry for breaking into his house and trying to take his grandchild,” according to the affidavit.
It was unclear Wednesday what, if any, physical evidence corroborates the man’s allegations.
Heath Harris, Brown’s defense attorney, told the Dallas Morning News last week that his client has professed his innocence.
“The world is basically prejudicing this whole community by saying, ‘That’s him,’” Harris said of the abduction footage. “This is not an open-and-shut case. Even if you believe that’s (Brown) on the video, it doesn’t mean he killed the kid.”
Harris also questioned why no charges were filed immediately after the alleged February incident.
“If that happened, why has it taken three months to file a case?” the defense attorney said.
Harris told the newspaper that he plans to request a mental health evaluation of Brown. Though he didn’t provide details, he said he anticipates it will prove his client suffers from a serious mental disorder.
As residents of the neighborhood where Cash was abducted met with Dallas police and city officials last month, several neighbors said they’d previously reported Brown to police for bizarre or suspicious behavior. They said police officers had never followed up on their calls prior to the boy’s death.
One man, who asked not to be identified, shared with Dallas’s WFAA some security footage from his own home.
The video shows a man in a face mask and hooded sweatshirt checking cars in the driveway to see if they are unlocked. The man in the footage, which is time- and date-stamped 1:16 a.m. April 19, has a similar size and build as the man seen taking Cash from his bed the morning of his slaying.
WFAA reported that a still image from April 19 shows a clearer image of the man, who appears to be Brown, breaking a security camera at the man’s home.
The images obtained by the news station were similar to footage another resident, Jose Alvarado, found on his own security system following Cash’s death. Alvarado lives around the corner from Sherrod’s house on Yadak Road.
Alvarado told the Daily Beast that he went back and searched his recorded footage to see if his cameras picked up anything the morning of the boy’s killing. He didn’t find anything from May 15 but he found a man who appears to be Brown peering into his backyard 10 weeks before the homicide.
The man on the video is seen walking onto Alvarado’s driveway from an alley that runs behind the home. He opens the gate on the wooden fence surrounding the family’s yard.
After looking into the yard for a few seconds, he walks away. The man appears to steal a nervous glance over his shoulder as he leaves.
A second alley adjacent to Alvarado’s corner lot runs directly behind Sherrod’s home.
“It’s really scary,” Alvarado told the Beast. “I have two kids, one girl and one boy, and they play basketball in the backyard.”
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