Mental health counselor pleads guilty to murder
July 3, 2013
WHITEVILLE - A former counselor and school teacher has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a March 2011 case.
Michael Shawn Brown, 46, will serve 20 to 34 years in prison, which will be served concurrently with a 30-year sentence he is serving on federal charges for wire fraud and arson. Brown was sentenced last week on the murder charge by Superior Court Judge Doug Sasser.
Brown pleaded guilty to the federal charges in August and was sentenced in December.
In the Superior Court plea deal, Brown admitted killing Larry James Townes, 55, of Chadbourn. Townes was killed inside Brown's private mental health counseling business on March 29, 2011.
Brown initially told investigators he did not recognize Townes, whom he said was armed, during a confrontation inside his business.
Brown also was a teacher and counselor at Chadbourn Elementary School. He was granted a leave of absence from his school duties the day after Townes was killed.
In his federal plea, Brown admitted to defrauding the federal Medicaid program through his counseling business, then burning it on April 17, 2011, the night before investigators were to visit and inspect records.
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