FourFourSeconds ago, I was watching the news about a man who was being investigated for allegedly killing a pregnant woman.
I watched as the news story detailed the circumstances surrounding the woman’s death.
In it, the man, a former cop and father of two, allegedly shot and killed her while she was sitting in her car.
I felt something deep in my stomach.
The fact that the man’s name was Darren Ray Brown.
I could see why he might have been on edge.
The fact that I had seen him on television.
As the news of the case continued to spread across the nation, I could also feel the fear of a possible repeat of what happened in my own family.
In 2015, Darren Brown was charged with the murder of 26-year-old Tiffany Johnson.
He had previously been investigated by the FBI for alleged domestic violence and robbery.
Tiffany’s body was found in his mother’s backyard in rural Georgia, in December 2015.
The FBI then found a revolver hidden in a box in his truck.
There was no sign of forced entry or a struggle.
The gun was in a bag in the truck.
Darren was charged on February 12, 2016, with first-degree murder and with possessing a firearm with the intent to commit a felony.
Two days after the news broke, Darren and Tiffany’s parents received a call from their daughter’s fiancee, who had received the news that she was pregnant.
After the call, the woman drove to a hospital in Georgia where she gave birth to Tiffany’s baby boy, who was named Cody.
The following year, the Johnson family and the community rallied to support them and their son.
In December 2016, the family was granted custody of Cody, and on February 15, 2017, Cody was born.
It was a big step for the family, but Darren still wasn’t ready for a baby.
He told me that he had gotten a divorce, and he wanted to make sure that he got custody of his baby.
I told him that I knew this would be hard.
What Darren was doing was wrong.
I wanted him to get the child out of the hospital so he could be with his wife, my husband, and Cody.
On February 22, 2017—six months after Tiffany’s death—the family was told that Darren had been charged with capital murder.
But that wasn’t enough.
Darnell, Tiffany’s mother, was devastated.
“I was so upset, that he was going to have to pay a price for this,” she told me.
“I was crying when I talked to him, that it was my baby.”
I asked him why he had done this to his wife and child.
His answer surprised me.
Darren said he didn’t want the child to be around other people.
That was a hard one to believe.
For years, Darren has been in and out of prison.
He’s been on probation twice, and has been charged multiple times with burglary and theft.
He was sentenced to life in prison in March 2017.
When he was released, he was immediately arrested on a felony charge for an assault on a police officer.
Then, in April, Darren was arrested again for another assault on an officer.
That time, he received a 15-year prison sentence.
A judge in February 2018 sentenced Darren to 30 years in prison.
Now, after a trial that lasted nearly three years, the case has been dismissed.
According to the Johnson’s, Darren had never been in trouble before, and they said he never threatened anyone.
All the while, Darren’s father is struggling with his grief.
“[My daughter] had a happy life,” he told me, “and she was a great mother.
And now, the world is watching her.”
He has not been able to work.
One of the biggest hurdles the Johnsons faced was how to pay for Cody’s care while he’s in prison, because he is a veteran and his benefits aren’t covered.
Despite all of this, he still loves his son and is determined to give him a chance to grow up.
During the trial, the judge gave him permission to speak with the children about his past.
At one point, I asked him about how he felt about the police.
“…that the system is broken,” Darren told me calmly.
“There are some people that have gone to jail, and then they go and get out.”
When I told this to him a few months later, he looked away.
“That’s not what happened to me.
That’s not how it happened.
You can’t take away the pain, you can’t make it go away.
But you can help me.”
“But you can do nothing,” I said.
“No,” he said.
“Because you can.
You can make it better.
You make it stronger. You have