Judge Robert Morin sentenced 23-year-old James Brown Friday to 18 months in prison for shooting Darnell Rivers after Rivers and another man kidnapped his brother, Tony Brown, for ransom.
Brown will only serve 2 of those months because Judge Morin decided to sentence Brown “in aggregate” to twenty months in prison, combining two separate incidents. Brown will additionally serve 18 months in prison for attempted first-degree child sex abuse.
Brown, 23, pleaded guilty in May to one count of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of carrying a rifle in connection with Rivers’ death. He was originally charged with first-degree premeditated murder, which can be punished by life in prison.
His brother, Tony Brown, was sentenced to 15 months in jail for one count of contempt and one count of escape in connection with River’s death.
Assistant US Attorney Michelle Bradford said Friday that when she first heard about the case, she thought it was a joke because of the situation’s “Hollywood” plot. But instead of behaving like Chuck Norris and retrieving his rifle, James Brown should have involved the police, Bradford said.
Charging documents say Tony Brown was kidnapped by Rivers and Javon Hale, who forced him at gunpoint into the back seat of a car. Rivers and Hale demanded money; Tony Brown shot them while the car was moving.
Police found Rivers with multiple gunshot wounds in the driver’s seat of a crashed car at the 5000 block of Ayers Place Southeast on December 29, 2012. Prosecutors say James Brown went to the crashed car with the gun and shot Rivers in the face and body after Tony Brown shot Rivers.
Bradford said in court that Rivers’ mother was unhappy with the plea deal, and declined to file a victim impact statements in the case.
James Brown’s defense attorney Eugene Ohm said that before Rivers and Hale kidnapped Tony Brown, they stuck a gun in James Brown’s mouth, threatened to “blow him away” and then gave him the opportunity to call someone. Ohm said he called his brother, but immediately regretted putting him in danger.
In court Friday, James Brown said that situation was no joke to him. While he asked for forgiveness from the River’s family, he also said the incident was the “single most terrible” moment of his life.
“Early on”, Brown said he struggled to sleep, dreamt of being killed, and often woke up bathed in sweat.
Before delivering his sentence, Judge Morin admitted that when the case first came in, he had to reread “who was the victim and who was the defendant.”