RAYTOWN, Mo. — Family and friends remembered Deondrea “Ne-Ne” Brand on Tuesday on what would have been her 39th birthday.
Damyon Cook, 24, is accused of killing Brand and 30-year-old Derrick Rich in a Kansas City driveway in February.
At the time Cook was supposed to be monitored by an ankle monitor in connection with a 2018 shooting death. But according to court documents, he didn’t charge it.
This isn’t the first time he’s been charged with murder.
“They took my daughter, and I’ll never get over that,” Brand’s father said Tuesday at an event in Raytown.
“NeNe had a fun fun loving heart,” a friend since sixth grade said.
Brand was inside a vehicle with Rich on Feb. 8 near East 28th Terrace and Van Brunt. According to court documents, Cook was at the vehicle to sell synthetic marijuana. Both Rich and Brand were killed.
“She loved her family; her family loved her,” Brand’s cousin Joanie Walker said.
“Every day I keep thinking it’s going to get better, but it gets worse,” her mother Mary Lee said.
Before Tuesday, Lee was unaware of the circumstances surrounding her daughter’s suspected killer or his past.
In 2018 Cook, then 19, was accused of shooting Virgil Marshall in the back multiple times in a drug deal. Before Marshall died, he pointed police to his killer, and Cook led police on a 20-minute chase where he caused multiple crashes, according to prosecutors.
Cook was charged with murder in that case, but pleaded guilty to reduced charges in 2019 of first-degree involuntary manslaughter and resisting arrest. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison.
Court documents show the ankle monitor he’d been wearing upon release wasn’t charged the day of the two killings this year.
“I don’t even understand why they let him out. Maybe if they hadn’t let him out my daughter would still be here,” Lee said.
Instead they celebrated her 39th birthday without her, releasing balloons but still holding on to “what ifs.”
“They’ve destroyed my family,” Lee said.
Cook’s trial is scheduled in November. This time he faces two counts of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree assault and three counts of armed criminal action.