Brandon Miller was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison for second-degree murder and conspiracy in connection with the shooting death of 21-year-old Jamal Coates. He is the fourth and final man to be sentenced for Coates’ death.
On Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Gee said that Miller’s decision to plead made him “one of the most important cooperating witnesses” of the past four years and requested a departure from the sentencing guidelines for him. Without Miller’s cooperation, “it would have been exceedingly difficult to bring the members of G-Rod to justice,” Gee said.
After pleading guilty in August 2011, Miller testified at trial that he drove his former co-defendants Keir Johnson, Lester Williams and Marcellus Jackson to the area of Ashley McRae’s funeral, where Johnson and Williams shot at members of a rival crew, killing Coates.
His former co-defendants called themselves G-Rod, Miller explained at trial, and the group shared information, sold drugs, did robberies, murdered, and shot at people. “One person get into it, we all get in it,” Miller said at the time.
As a result, Gee requested that Miller be sentenced to five to seven years for his charges. The maximum penalty for Coates’ death was 55 years. Coates’ family did not object to the agreement, Gee said, but decided not to attend Friday’s sentencing.
Judge Lynn Leibovitz agreed that Miller’s support was substantial and accepted the departure, saying that the convictions of his co-defendants would “not have been nearly as likely” without Miller’s decision to testify.
According to the government’s memorandum in aid of sentencing, Miller “foolishly agreed to drive his own car to and from the shooting” and later agreed to hide the murder weapons in his parents’ house.
Miller appeared to be “thoroughly ashamed that despite having a good family upbringing and being intelligent, he permitted himself to fall so thoroughly into being involved in the streets and used by others,” the memorandum said.
Defense attorney Anthony Matthews said though his client’s decision was “made easier by the facts marshaled against him,” Miller made a tough choice that resulted in “peril for his family, his child, and himself.”
The decision was motivated in part by self-interest, Matthews said, but “a big part of that selfish interest is that he doesn’t want his parents to feel they like squandered their time with him.”
Before his sentence was delivered, Miller apologized, saying that he thinks about his actions every day. “I chose a lot of wrong,” he said.
“People never forget how you make then feel,” Miller said. “I put [the Coates family] through a lot of pain. I put my family through a lot of pain.”
Plea documents, which were previously under seal, will be added below.