A Missouri court official said Wednesday that Michael Brown was never convicted of a top felony as a juvenile, according to multiple media reports.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and conservative journalist Charles C. Johnson each asked a judge Wednesday to release the potential juvenile records for Brown, the unarmed black 18-year-old who was fatally shot by a white police officer last month in Ferguson, Mo.
Brown did not have a criminal record as an adult, law enforcement have said previously.
While the St. Louis County Circuit Court has yet to release any of Brown’s records, if there were any, a court official apparently divulged a few clues during a hearing about the matter on Wednesday.
NBC’s Tracy Connor and the Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Kohler reported that Brown was never convicted of a Class-A or Class-B felony as a juvenile, nor was he facing any such charges at the time of his death on Aug. 9. Those details were provided by Cynthia Harcourt, the St. Louis County juvenile office’s attorney.
Class-A felonies include second-degree murder.
That type of crime has been a question on the right in the aftermath of Brown’s death because Johnson said he had uncovered revelations about Brown’s past.
In a tweet last month, Johnson said he “[c]onfirmed an earlier report” that Brown “had juvenile arrest record involving second degree murder.”
The claim was picked up by the conservative IJReview’s Kyle Becker, whose story made a huge splash on the right. As of Wednesday afternoon, Becker’s piece had been shared more than 60,000 times.
Despite Wednesday’s reports, Johnson didn’t seem to be backing off his earlier claims. He sent a tweet to Kohler arguing that the Post-Dispatch’s headline on Brown’s juvenile record was false and told the reporter to issue a correction for the story.
“That’s not what was said in court today, @jeremykohler,” he tweeted.
This headline is false. That’s not what was said in court today, @jeremykohler. You need a correction. #MichaelBrown pic.twitter.com/XcLe5nduOZ
— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) September 3, 2014
Johnson told TPM in an email on Wednesday that he was informed of Brown’s involvement in the second degree murder by two law enforcement sources in St. Louis and that his website, Gotnews.com, was careful not to say that the late teen was “convicted.”
“The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrongly reported that Cynthia Harcourt, who represents the St. Louis family court, said that Michael Brown had not been convicted of a ‘serious felony.’ (No reporter has asked her what a ‘serious felony’ even means.),” Johnson wrote in the email.
“This argument was meant to sway the judge but Gotnews.com has never said Brown was convicted–only that he was involved in one. We still haven’t heard if he was charged or not. There are many ways in which someone could be present at a crime but never be charged with the underlying offense.”
Johnson also said that his sources told him that Brown was in a gang, which he claimed may have staved off a conviction.
“Juveniles, particularly those involved in gangs, aren’t usually convicted on a first offense,” Johnson wrote. “They are usually given probation, a plea bargain, or a reduced sentence.”
Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, told the New York Times last month that her son wasn’t in a gang.