By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
A Killeen man and woman were found shot to death early Saturday morning inside their home in a southwest neighborhood.
Darius Treymane Westbrook, 30, and his girlfriend, Natasha Williams Brannum, 36, were found on the floor of their home at 2506 Grasslands Drive by family members at about 4 a.m. Saturday.
Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin pronounced Brannum dead at 5:41 a.m. and Westbrook at 5:43 a.m.
These were the second and third homicides in the residential area this year, and the fourth for Killeen in 2007.
The first was on Jan. 13 in the 1500 block of Janis Drive, just three blocks away from the scene of Saturday's slayings. One man has been indicted on a murder charge in that death and is awaiting trial. The most recent was what authorities described as a murder-suicide on April 9 on Cimarron Drive.
Carroll Smith, public information officer for the Killeen Police Department, said the family members, who also live at the residence, had been attempting to contact the couple earlier in the night; they went to the residence when they didn't answer and discovered the front door was open.
While the investigation is still in its early stages, Smith said there is no evidence of a burglary, and the reasoning behind the act remains a mystery.
"At this point, we don't have amotive," Smith said outside the cordoned-off area around the house Saturday morning. "There doesn't appear to be any forced entry. We do believe it's a double homicide at this point."
Smith could not comment specifically on where the two victims had been in the past 24 hours because of the ongoing investigation, but she did say that investigators are presently interviewing friends and family to establish a chain of events and where the two had been that night.
Many of Westbrook's friends arrived outside the home Saturday and stayed, watching officers set up the KPD mobile crime unit and providing interested parties with a characterization of Westbrook.
One man said he first met Westbrook when they were teammates at Killeen High School, and the two had been friends since.
Westbrook's uncle, Jerome Lee, has been involved in his life since he was born, and was clearly in shock Saturday morning as he watched the crime scene investigators go to and from the house where Westbrook and his girlfriend had been found shot just hours before.
"Since he was a little kid, I've always talked with him, played sports with him as he was growing up," Lee said. "We were really close. He was a good man. My other nephew just talked to him last night. I can't believe it, I really can't."
Lee said Westbrook and Brannum had been together for a year and a half, and every time he had seen the two together, they appeared to be very happy.
"She's really nice," Lee said. "They really loved each other."
Mico Washington, who lives just a block away off Bonnet Street, said he and Westbrook had been friends for nearly 20 years.
"We've been friends since like the fifth grade," said the distraught Washington, one of many friends who spoke highly of the 30-year-old longtime Killeen resident. "I've been out here since about 7:30, and I'm not going to leave. This is my boy, man."
Washington said he is shocked that such an act could occur in that neighborhood and believes that it couldn't have been anyone nearby.
"Everybody's cool in this neighborhood. You come to this neighborhood, (you are) like family, man," he said. "It doesn't matter what color you are. It ain't like that around here. We don't mess with nobody. It's probably somebody just trying to get what he had. Who knows."
Washington said he, like everyone, really feels for the family left behind.
"He's got a little boy, 6 years old," Washington said. "Now he ain't got no daddy."
The son is from a previous relationship.
Another friend of Westbrook's, Thomas Taylor, said he's lost a mentor and a friend.
"He's been like a big brother to me," Taylor said, echoing the statements of several others. "I met him two years ago when I moved here. You need something, and he's got it, he'll give it to you. That's the kind of guy he is. He's a good person."
While police are still piecing together a motive for the killings, they have not ruled out drug-related activity.
Westbrook was sentenced to five years of deferred probation, a $1,000 fine and 350 hours of community service by a Bell County judge on Oct. 12, 2006, for possession of a controlled substance, namely ecstasy, more than 4 grams, according to Bell County court records.
According to the arrest affidavit, Westbrook was pulled over at 4:34 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006, on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. His vehicle was searched, and an orange pill bottle was found. It contained 33 pills that tests confirmed were more than 4 grams of ecstasy, court records show.
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7568