BALTIMORE — Francois Browne, 38, was sentenced to serve life in prison plus 40 years for the death of 18- month-old, Zaray Gray. In September, Browne was convicted of second-degree murder and child abuse. Prior to Gray’s death, Browne previously served nearly three years in prison for the child abuse related death of his own son in late 2012.
On July 18, 2018,18-month old boy, Zaray Gray, was pronounced dead by Sinai Hospital staff shortly after his arrival. The toddler was observed to have sustained severe bruising to his right forehead, right side, waistline, and neck. An autopsy subsequently ruled the death homicide. A postmortem x-ray also revealed a broken left clavicle consistent with being thrown or a substantial fall. The medical examiner concluded that the bruising to the victim’s body was fresh, and his injuries were the result of non-accidental trauma. The bruising found on the child’s face was consistent with being grabbed. The patterns of bruising found on the child’s abdomen were made by fingerprints and fists and was caused by repeated, forceful, focal blows. The examiner further stated that upon sustaining these injuries, Zaray would have appeared symptomatic, experiencing stomach pain, and vomiting.
Investigation revealed that on the morning of July 18, Zaray behaved normally while in the presence of his mother, older sister and brother, and their mother’s boyfriend, Francois Browne. That afternoon, the defendant took the three children to the playground. After they returned, the child’s mother observed that her toddler’s behavior was becoming increasingly abnormal; vomiting in his bedroom, requesting to be held more often and being sluggish for the remainder of the day. At around 4:00 pm, She and her daughter left home to run errands, leaving Zaray and his older brother in the care of the defendant. Upon her return, she found Browne was downstairs and Zaray asleep in her bed. That evening, she heard her son moaning but assumed the child had a bad dream. When the child’s mother checked on him at approximately 9:40 pm, she discovered he was unresponsive and not breathing.
In Browne’s taped statement that he provided to detectives, he claimed that Zaray was injured on the playground, alleging that the child fell going down a sliding board, which caused him to bump his head and back.
When Zaray’s siblings were interviewed, his brother disclosed while in Browne’s care, he witnessed Browne swinging his baby brother around just before dropping the crying child to the floor.
“Again, I cannot thank the prosecutors on this case; Michele Lambert, Noelle W. Newman and Sarah Simpkins, for their unwavering commitment to securing justice for precious 18-month-old Zaray,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “ Our heartfelt prayers and support will continue to be with Zaray’s mother and his family during this difficult time. As a mother of two young children, I can’t begin to fathom what this family or the families of Browne’s other victims must be feeling, but I certainly hope that today’s sentencing will somehow aide in their healing process, knowing that Francois Browne will never walk the streets of Baltimore City again.”