LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Court TV) — Less than an hour into deliberations in the penalty phase, a jury returned with a verdict to sentence Brice Rhodes to life without parole for the stabbing deaths of two teenage brothers whose bodies were found burned behind an abandoned home in Louisville.
Brice Rhodes, 25, had been convicted of three counts of murder on Dec. 18, as well as charges of tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse in connection with the deaths of 14-year-old Larry Ordway and 16-year-old Maurice “Reece” Gordon.
The third murder charge against Rhodes was for the shooting death of Christopher Jones, 40, who was shot and killed around the same time as Ordway and Gordon. In his opening statement, prosecutor Critt Cunningham told the jury that the teenagers had witnessed Jones’ murder and were killed as “discipline.”
Cunningham said that Rhodes stabbed Ordway and Gordon and dumped their bodies “like trash” behind an abandoned home on River Park Drive in the Shawnee Park neighborhood, which sits on the east side of Louisville along the Ohio River. A passerby found the bodies stabbed to death and their remains burned.
Prosecutors said that Rhodes killed the teen inside his apartment while his mother and sister were out of town. Cunningham described Rhodes as working with others to carry the boys’ bodies out of his home in totes and load them into his vehicle before leaving the others to clean up.
Rhodes went through multiple attorneys ahead of his trial. His demeanor resembled that of another former Court TV Legendary Trial defendant, Darrell Brooks, a sovereign citizen who represented himself pro se and was often removed from the courtroom to participate in a separate room where his outbursts could be controlled.
During his pre-trial hearing, Rhodes used threatening language and obscenities toward the judge and claimed his own attorneys were racist. Rhodes also argued that the Louisville Metro Police detectives were framing him for the murders of Ordway and Gordon.
“Two Louisville homicide detectives both fabricated testimony and committed perjury,” Rhodes told Judge Cunningham. “You’re not trying to give me a fair chance and effective counsel … That’s OK. I’ll write the bar association.”
His former attorney, Brendan McLeod, withdrew his representation in 2016 after learning that the two victims were the grandchildren of his close friend. When McCloud tried to explain the situation to his client, Rhodes spit on him and later in court threatened him, saying, “I’ll see you when I get out.”
Rhodes’ case had been pending since 2016 and was scheduled for trial in January 2022 before Rhodes’ defense asked for a competency evaluation, claiming Rhodes had an “intellectual disability,” WDRB reported in April.
A psychiatrist from Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in Louisville, Dr. Timothy Allen, testified that while Rhodes does have a low IQ of 71, an anti-social personality disorder, anxiety and substance issues, he is mentally competent to stand trial. Allen said Rhodes is articulate, understands what is happening and “pretty much did everything we asked of him.”
But Griffiths pointed out that in his competency evaluation, Rhodes apparently would set up traps in his rooms to make sure nobody would sneak in, had hallucinations, and believed that the prosecutor in the case, among others, was trying to poison him.
At the culmination of the two-day penalty phase, the prosecution asked for a maximum sentence of life without parole for the defendant’s heinous crimes, while the defense begged the jury to consider Rhodes’ mental illness, relative culpability and past trauma by giving him a chance at parole.
The jury sided with the prosecution and, in less than an hour, returned with three life without parole sentences for the three intentional murders of Larry Ordway, Maurice Gordon and Christopher Jones, five years for tampering with physical evidence and one year each for the two counts of abuse of a corpse.
Daily Trial Updates
DAY 6 – 12/19/23
- The defense and prosecution presented opening statements.
- The jury heard victim impact statements from Christopher Jones’ older brother and Larry Ordway and Maurice Gordon’s grandmother.
- Brice Rhodes’ stepmother testified on his behalf.
DAY 5 – 12/18/23
- WATCH: Witness to Murder Trial: Watch the Verdict
- WATCH: Witness to Murder Trial: Defense Closing Argument
- WATCH: Witness to Murder Trial: Prosecution Closing Argument
DAY 4 – 12/15/23
- The state rested its case.
- The defense moved for a directed verdict, arguing that the prosecution had failed to prove every element of the charges. The judge denied the motion.
DAY 3 – 12/14 23
- A crime scene technician who participated in a search of Brice Rhodes’ mother’s apartment testified to finding two knives.
- He was also present when Rhodes’ blue Mazda was found, which he described as smelling like bleach and as having had the backseat removed.
- A forensic pathologist testified that Chris Jones was killed by a gunshot that went through his arm, entered his torso and hit his liver.
- Larry Ordway’s cause of death was multiple stab wounds to the torso.
- Ordway was stabbed 21 times, and is believed to have been dead when he was set on fire.
- Jeffrey Scott Doyle with the Kentucky State Police forensics lab testified that he was unable to match the tire tracks to Rhodes’ vehicle or shoe prints to his shoes.
- Jacorey Taylor, a co-defendant who agreed to a plea deal that included him testifying against Rhodes, reluctantly took the stand. He initially refused to answer any questions about Chris Jones’ shooting and was emotional and concerned about having to testify. After consulting with an attorney, he agreed to testify.
- Taylor said it was Rhodes’ idea to look for Jones, and he used a 9mm gun that Taylor had purchased that day for his own protection.
- Taylor described himself as scared after the shooting, and said he had never done anything like that before.
- Taylor cried as he described Maurice and Larry’s murders, saying that Rhodes directed him to stab Larry.
- WATCH: Witness Fearfully Says Brice Rhodes is Mastermind Behind Killings
- WATCH: Witness to Murder Trial: Day 3 Recap
DAY 2 – 12/13/23
- Jurors heard from 11 witnesses, including some who offered insight into the victims.
- Deborah Wren talked about her grandsons, Maurice Gordon and Larry Ordway.
- Christopher Jensen, who lived in the same apartment complex as Brice Rhodes, testified that he let Rhodes borrow a black Dodge Charger on two occasions.
- Anjuan Carter, a co-defendant who agreed to a plea deal, testified against Rhodes and described the killings of Christopher Jones as well as Gordon and Ordway.
- Carter said that Rhodes was the mastermind of both incidents.
- Carter gave chilling testimony about the murders, saying that there was a vote before the teens were killed, and then the knife was passed around to the group.
- WATCH: Witness: Rhodes Led Group in Vote Before Murdering Teens
- WATCH: Witness to Murder Trial: Defense Emphasizes Witness’ Lies
- WATCH: Witness to Murder: Day 2 Recap
DAY 1 – 12/12/W23
- The prosecution and defense delivered opening statements.
- Three police witnesses testified to their initial investigation into Christopher Jones’ shooting death.
- There were no suspects in the shooting until the investigation into the death of the teens began two weeks later.
- Brice Rhodes’ fingerprints were not found on the shell casing recovered from the scene.