West Seattle Crime Watch followup: Rider-thwarted RapidRide robber Trevonnte Brown pleads guilty

(11/25/2013 photo by WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand)
4:47 PM: Another high-profile Morgan Junction crime case has a major development today: 19-year-old Trevonnte Brown has pleaded guilty as charged to robbery and attempted robbery, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. He’s the Beacon Hill man arrested last November after passengers stopped his robbery rampage aboard a RapidRide bus near California/Graham; their takedown of the robber was seen in video made public weeks later. Brown’s plea also included an earlier bus-robbery incident. Prosecutors will recommend a top-of-the-range sentence, 13 1/2 years, when Brown is sentenced on May 30th.

ADDED WEDNESDAY EVENING: We’ve downloaded the court documents for more details on the plea agreement. The recommended sentence consists of 8 1/2 years plus the five-year “enhancement” for his use of a gun. In addition, though prosecutors point out he is pleading guilty as charged, the documents note that they have agreed not to charge him in additional incidents in which he was suspected.

46 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch followup: Rider-thwarted RapidRide robber Trevonnte Brown pleads guilty"

  • Jason April 9, 2014 (5:10 pm)

    Wow that is a long time to go away for failing to steal some phones. Suddenly I feel bad for the guy.

  • Ray April 9, 2014 (5:22 pm)


    He willingly and willfully committed a crime.

    He made the decision to commit a crime.

    His potential victims did not know his intent or the threat he posed.

    Let him rot for a while and think about his life choices. Yes, he is likely to come out worse than he went in, but for now he is going to be gone for a while.

    As for length – he is a repeat offender. Too bad.

  • Zibo Longfellow April 9, 2014 (5:24 pm)

    Jason, didn’t he have a gun? In my opinion, any crime committed with a gun should have at least a 15 year minimum sentence, unfortunately that seems to be a bit expensive. He’s looking at a maximum 13 1/2, which he will definitely not serve,( We all know that it will be a lot less than that) so I consider him to be lucky.

  • 2 Much Whine April 9, 2014 (5:31 pm)

    Not me – don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

  • snowball April 9, 2014 (6:19 pm)

    you feel bad for the guy?? he made the choice to endanger the lives of everyone on that bus, and stuck a gun directly in the face of several innocent people simply trying to get home from work on the bus, and you feel bad for him? i think your sympathies are misplaced. unbelievable.

  • wssz April 9, 2014 (6:20 pm)

    Be sure to watch the video linked in this article. Did he have a gun? Yes, and it’s truly unbelievable how quickly the man on the bus reacted to protect himself and everyone around him. From potential victim to hero. He has astounding courage, and was very fortunate to not be shot. Trevonnte Brown deserves to be behind bars for a very long time.

  • joel April 9, 2014 (6:41 pm)

    at least his parent won’t have to wonder where he is for the next 13 years. you do adult crime you do adult time. he made the choice and not his first criminal acts.

  • West Seattle Hipster April 9, 2014 (6:45 pm)

    What sentence the prosecution recommends and what sentence Trevonnte actually receives are two different things.

    I predict he does less than 5 years.

  • John April 9, 2014 (7:03 pm)

    I hope he serves every day of those 13.5 years & more for the pain and fear he created in those attacks. Let’s keep dangerous offenders in prison and our communities safe.

  • Kravitz April 9, 2014 (7:15 pm)

    Oh Jason, I’m afraid you’re going to get the wrath of WSB commenters here…

    Why on earth would you feel sorry for someone being punished for aggressively and violently breaking the law (repeatedly) and endangering the lives of others? Seriously… if you’d had a gun pointed in your face, whether the weapon was fake, real, loaded… would you still feel sorry for Trevonnte Brown?

  • kim April 9, 2014 (7:59 pm)

    What he did was deplorable–awful. I don’t know how I’d feel if I were a victim. But I’m with Jason; I feel badly that this teen used such bad judgement, and that “he is likely to come out worse than when he went in”. You may feel the punishment fits the crime, but I’d like to see a punishment that helps shape this person into a healthy citizen at some point, something along the way of restorative justice. I have to ask, if he weren’t a kid of color, would the sentence be so harsh?

    • WSB April 9, 2014 (8:21 pm)

      Kim, for what it’s worth, sentencing seems a lot more situational than based on skin color or other factors … I was just looking at some recent cases, wondering about your question, and for example, the three Arbor Heights (etc.) robbers whose guilty-plea hearing I covered a few weeks ago http://westseattleblog.com/2014/03/guilty-pleas-in-arbor-heightsfauntleroybeacon-hill-robberies – two street robberies and one attempt – are expected to be recommended for sentences around 5 1/2 years; they are young adults of color. Donald Plute, a young white adult whose sentencing I covered last Friday, got 10+ years for robbery/assault – the robbery was considered to be the taking of the truck he made off with. Again ***I only mention their ethnicities because of Kim’s question***; obviously, I’m just offering anecdotal evidence, and have no stats, but these are a couple recent examples … TR
      Also – I have just downloaded the full plea document. The recommended sentence is 8 1/2 years for the robberies (concurrent) plus the 5 years “hard time” for firearm use. It’s also part of a plea agreement – while he is pleading guilty as charged, the state is agreeing not to charge him in other cases in which he is suspected.

  • Kap April 9, 2014 (8:51 pm)

    “I feel badly that this teen used such bad judgement, and that “he is likely to come out worse than when he went in”. You may feel the punishment fits the crime, but I’d like to see a punishment that helps shape this person into a healthy citizen at some point, something along the way of restorative justice. I have to ask, if he weren’t a kid of color, would the sentence be so harsh?

    Kim what planet did you just fly in from? Utopia? I am not trying to be harsh. I am all for forgiveness after you, he, has done his time.

  • Jason April 9, 2014 (11:10 pm)

    I’m not defending the guy and I don’t know what else he’s done. Of course I also felt bad for the people he threatened when this story came out, and anyone else he victimized. I wasn’t trying to make some kind of statement other than it would really be awful to spend 13+ years of your life locked up.
    It is possible to not like someone’s actions and still feel a little sorry for the situation they’re in.

  • Kim April 10, 2014 (5:37 am)

    I don’t live in Utopia but reside in reality. I’m not denying the awfulness of his crime(s); I am pondering the outcome of his sentence, and the post above–basically stating that prison will make him unlikely to be a productive citizen–makes me cringe.

  • Tyrel April 10, 2014 (5:44 am)

    Good, put the punk in jail and keep our streets safe from him.
    Guaranteed that if he got caught doing two such terrible crimes he did lots more we didn’t know about…

  • MyEye April 10, 2014 (7:34 am)

    Wait, so the guy who just brandished a gun is going to get the same amount of time as the dude who actually killed someone?

    • WSB April 10, 2014 (7:43 am)

      Neither has been sentenced yet and the Lovett Chambers recommendation is not yet in writing, but yes, KCPAO says that with the gun enhancement his sentencing range would be 12-14 years, while the recommended sentence for Trevonnte Brown is 13 1/2 years.

  • kim April 10, 2014 (8:03 am)

    The teenager brandished a gun and terrified a group of commuters,and it must have been terrifying. I cannot speak for them. My daughter was held up at gunpoint for her phone (another country), and while I was upset and relieved, I also questioned what would lead those men to commit such a crime. When my car window was smashed in February, and the perpetrators got away with my virtually empty backpack, I was surely yes, pissed, but I had to ask what would lead someone to risk his/her freedom for that silly Jansport. I gotta think poverty, lack of employment opportunities, domestic or surrounding violence, discrimination/racism, a cycle of incarceration, mental illness unchecked, lack of access to needed social services, addiction all play a part here. And locking up a kid is not the answer. I have lots of ideas: guidance, mentoring, hard work, positive feedback, meeting with the victims and expressing remorse, paying back society in a productive way…
    I hope I’m not alone.

  • miws April 10, 2014 (8:55 am)

    kim, while I’m not yet sure how I feel about the potential punishment in this case, you are not alone in wondering what would drive people to commit such crimes.


    I would much prefer to address and correct the potential causes you suggest, to help prevent folks from getting to the point of committing the crimes in the first place.


    I’m not talking about excusing bad/criminal behavior, and not holding people accountable for their actions, but rather talking about an investment in our community, and those who live here.



  • phil dirt April 10, 2014 (9:03 am)

    Kim, he used a gun to commit this crime. I want to see him do the time. I don’t care what color he is. Would you still feel sorry for him if he had shot someone?

  • Community Member April 10, 2014 (9:04 am)

    There’s always room for improvement in how we (as a society, as a nation) deal with crime. I think it is important to keep an open mind about all sorts of possibilities, and not get stuck in any one particular ideology of punishment, treatment, whatever.
    At the very least, I don’t think our current practices are a very good value for the taxpayers. Regardless of what punishment is “deserved”, it is very, very expensive to the taxpayers to keep someone locked up for years and years.
    Other countries have experimented with different approaches, combining shorter incarcerations with more intensive regimes of community supervision, etc. What works? What doesn’t work? There must be actual statistics, not just feelings.
    In the meantime, we could reduce the opportunity and temptation for this sort of crime by banning the kiosks that pay instant money for stolen phones.

  • rico April 10, 2014 (9:05 am)

    Parenting classes already exist, but the parents raising these fine humans are not likely to attend such classes.

  • phil dirt April 10, 2014 (9:08 am)

    The kid used a gun to do the crime. I want to see him do the time. I don’t care what his excuse for doing so was, and I don’t care what color he is.

  • ScubaFrog April 10, 2014 (9:54 am)

    We live in an ‘interesting’ time, in America – where “Justice” is subjective, and not evenly applied. We live in a country where a wealthy teenager can drive drunk and kill 4 people – but get probation. Or a wealthy Dupont heir can rape a child – and get probation. But an inner city youth robs someone and loses 14 years of his life.

    The same standard applies to the Gary Ridgeways, who murder scores of people and get a life sentence (and I understand the dynamics of his plea deal, but still find it Ludacris) – versus someone who kills 1 person and gets a death sentence.

    Mike (miws) is right of course. The punishment shouldn’t be excused, but there have to be ways to help the offenders change (or to reach them before they offend in the first place). Long prison sentences don’t do anything – look at the recidivism rates. And when a felon gets out, no one hires them, so how are they supposed to eat? By going back to robbing (and I don’t condone that, I’d rather starve). But you the gist.

  • Elizagrace April 10, 2014 (10:17 am)

    While I am a huge proponent for alternatives to jail time in many cases (restorative justice/community involvement can work wonders when done in the correct context); I don’t see that being an option here.

    This young man made a decision to put a bus full of people in harms way and could have injured or killed people all for something as insignificant as their electronics.

    When you start getting into the weapon territory I think you have graduated from “a poor decision” and into major criminal territory and it should be handled accordingly.

  • WestofJunction April 10, 2014 (10:20 am)

    ScubaFrog – you are mixing apples and oranges. Vehicular Homicide is uniformly badly prosecuted- just google the many crimes of this type and see that in general perpetrators get off very lightly. Ditto with molestation/other crimes against children. Comparing the same crimes among different socio-economic or racial groups would be a more valid comparison.

    As to imprisonment – at least it keeps us safer with one less violent person preying on the general public for those 14 years. He made the choice to commit the crime. Actions have consequences.

  • wscommuter April 10, 2014 (10:35 am)

    WSHipster, Zibo, etc. … at least please learn the truth and deal in facts. In WA, we have “determinate sentencing” – by statute, as set forth by the legislature, all felony crimes are rated according to seriousness and punishment is set within fairly narrow ranges, according to the seriousness level of the crime and the offender’s prior felony convictions.

    Judges have very little discretion – they are required to sentence within that range (i.e. – a first time conviction for selling cocaine or heroin will result in a sentence between 21 and 27 months – the judge must be within that range).

    Using a deadly weapon adds mandatory additional time to the sentencing range.

    For non-violent felonies, an offender may earn (as in, if they behave themselves while in prison) up to 1/3 of the their sentence off; this is called “good time” and can incentive positive behavior in prison. Serious violent offenders, however, can only earn up to 1/6 off their sentence (so on a 6 year sentence, that offender will do at least 5 years). For deadly weapon enhancements, there is no – as in 0 – good time at all.

    So this fellow, for example, might behave himself in prison and earn a couple years off for good time, but he’ll still do at least 11 years or so on the current sentence he is facing.

    I’m all for people saying the punishments should be higher or lower – just understand that the place to direct your opinions is to you state legislators who set these punishments – and not at the judges or prosecutors who are simply working with what they are given by Olympia.

  • ScubaFrog April 10, 2014 (10:46 am)

    That’s exactly what I was doing, WestofJunction – comparing the outcomes of crimes committed by members of different socio-economic groups. The rich get off. The poor/middle class go to prison. We have the largest prison population on earth (larger than Stalin’s gulags). That prison population is made up of the middle and lower-middle class. There’s also a tremendous racial disparity in regards to sentencing.

    I’d feel a lot better about this young man going to prison, if his counterparts went to prison as well.

    I completely understand the severity of this young man’s actions. But when rich rapists/murderers get probation, shouldn’t everyone?

  • WestofJunction April 10, 2014 (12:43 pm)

    No, rich white people are not the only ones who drive drunk and cause accidents. Neither are rich whites the only ones who molest/abuse children.

    Drunk/impaired driving whether it results in an accident or not, is given way more of a pass than many other crimes, whether the perpetrator is white/non-poor, etc. This is because historically, we have tolerated drinking and drinking-related crimes far too much.

    Child abuse similarly has not been treated as seriously as it should – again, without regard to the color and/or socioeconomic background of the perpetrator, because we as a society have treated it as a lesser crime than adult on adult violence.

    A high proprtion of our prison population is in due to non-violent crimes, typically drug posession. This is the fallout of the war on drugs. I think few people believe incarceration is the answer anymore.

    A violent robbery is a serious thing – don’t care if they are black/white/purple.

  • ScubaFrog April 10, 2014 (1:29 pm)

    Of course rich white people aren’t the only ones abusing children, or murdering people on drunken driving sprees. That’s not my assertion.
    My assertion is that the rich evade harsh sentences – statistically this true.

    Tragically, the middle class (or the lower middle class) bear the brunt of the legal system. This is the America we live in today. And it needs to change, so that everyone’s treated equally in the eyes of Justice.

  • McGruff April 10, 2014 (2:49 pm)

    Let Trayvonne do the 13 years, and let them be hard. There are a lot of folks who deal with poverty, etc., and don’t use it as an excuse to terrorize their neighbors. It is good to make an example with this punk, since West Seattle is increasingly becoming a Happy Hunting Ground for gangstas coming up from other neighborhoods (I offer TB’s crime, as well as the strongarm robberies near Charleston and the Alaska Junction as just a little evidence of a disturbing trend of outsiders coming here to rob, ‘coz the pickings are rich and the people are soft and stupid). If we don’t send a clear message to the ‘thug life’ crowd that WS will not tolerate their behavior, we will be overrun this summer with punks and gangbangers who will rightly see WS as low-hanging fruit, fat with soft, weak dilettantes whose pockets, purses, messenger bags, and backpacks are fairly bursting with juicy prizes like smart phones, tablets, etc.

    Trayvonne chose the thug life; he had alternatives, but didn’t choose them. He can now spend the next 13 years lying in the bed he made. The heck with him.

  • Jason April 10, 2014 (3:16 pm)

    I hope none of our children ever rely on the jury comprised of WSB commenters. Have you really stopped to think how long 13 years is? Do you really think this guy is going to learn a lesson in those 13 years? One that he wouldn’t learn in say 2 or 5? That ‘do the crime, do the time’ stuff is so lazy and dismissive.
    And believe me there are no ‘thugs’ out there having a meeting about how West Seattle gives out hard time for crimes, that makes zero sense on almost every level.

  • zark April 10, 2014 (3:40 pm)

    Of course the points about poverty breeding crime out of necessity are true, I don’t think anyone disagrees there.
    But where is the assessment of his individual character aside from his (assumed) socioeconomic status?
    He’s an aggressive bully, he chooses to be, and he exhibited sociopathic behavior. There are LOTS of things he could steal that don’t require guns or even contact with another person.
    Steal my lawnmower, sell it down the road at the pawn shop, I’d never even know you were there and it would take 5 minutes – he’d prob get more than from a used iPhone.
    A coyote will run from people by nature. When they don’t run, there’s a VERY serious problem.
    The fact that he may or may not have been forced into this life by circumstances beyond his control is beside the point. If he scammed old people out of their retirement checks we’d also hate him, but he wouldn’t do 13 years. It’s about aggression and judgement. Severe aggression coupled with the judgement of a sociopath means we have to lock him up before he (purposefully or accidentally) kills one of us. If this is truly a crime borne of extreme poverty, he maybe should have just sold the gun. Personally I think this was a guy who wanted to terrorize people, wanted people to fear him, and he wanted the power trip of taking people’s personal property directly from them. There are so many lower-impact ways to be a criminal, this was about power not profit.
    I know I sound like a cat burglar – I’m not, your lawnmowers are safe.

  • waterworld April 10, 2014 (5:23 pm)

    Just to address the issue that’s been raised regarding race — that is, whether non-white offenders are likely to be punished more harshly in this state, the answer is yes. There’s a lot of good research on this issue available, covering decades of arrests, detentions, prosecutions, and sentences.
    The Korematsu Center at Seattle University released two detailed reports on racial disparity in Washington’s criminal justice system, one focused on the juvenile system, one on the adult system. Their preliminary report on the adult system was released in 2012, and noted, among other things, that the U.S. incarcerates individuals at a rate far beyond any other industrialized nation. In the U.S. a black offender is 5.6 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white defendant. In this state, the rate of incarceration of blacks is higher than the national rate, and compared to whites, black offenders are 6.4 times more likely to go to prison.

    The difference is not explained by the theory that black people commit more crimes than white people. Rather, much of the difference is due to the cumulative effect of both bias in enforcement and a range of policies that are facially neutral but have a disparate impact. Some examples: While the data shows that the State Patrol do not stop minority drivers more than whites, they cite minorities more often, and the citations are for more serious offenses than what whites are typically cited for. Compared to white drivers, a black driver is 2.5 times more likely to be searched, and a Hispanic driver is twice as likely to be searched. Nonetheless, the number of searches that result in seizures — the “hit rate” — is substantially higher among white motorists.
    In the juvenile system, black youth are twice as likely as whites to be arrested, 2.5 times more likely to be referred for prosecution, more than three times as likely to be detained, and more than five times as likely to be committed to a “juvenile rehabilitation” center than white youth. In the adult system, if arrested, black defendants are much less likely to be released on bail or personal recognizance, which contributes to their greater rate of conviction. Once convicted, black offenders are far less likely than whites to receive sentences below the standard range. Prosecutors are 75% less likely to seek alternative (i.e., less harsh) sentences for black offenders than for similarly situated whites.

    Among adult drug offenders, black defendants are 62% more likely to be sentenced to prison than similarly situated whites. Among adult drug offenders, at least in Seattle, the rate of arrest among blacks was 13 times higher than that of whites in the mid-2000s, and the rate of arrest for drug delivery by blacks was 21 times higher than the rate of arrest for whites.

    These reports and presentations available here (long link so I shortened it): bit.ly/1n05Xdk and here: bit.ly/1izi5et

    None of this is intended as a comment on the sentence this defendant likely will receive. Early in this thread, someone asked whether this defendant might be looking at a different sentence if he were white. All due respect to TR, but a few recent, local cases does not a pattern make. The evidence over many decades shows that at every stage of the proceedings, a young black defendant is likely to be treated more harshly than white one.

  • WestofJunction April 10, 2014 (6:47 pm)

    Zark -agree with you 100%. Jason, first of all, I raised my kids to know the diference between right and wrong and torespect boundaries. If I had failed in this, I would not disagree with locking them up for a long time for such a violent crime.

  • Jason April 10, 2014 (8:56 pm)

    Good to know, I like to think I’ve done the same raising my kids but it doesn’t mean they won’t make a mistake and if they did I’d hope people weren’t so eager to essentially throw them away. Basically all I’m saying is it seems like a lot of people here are very quick to call someone a thug and to say “good, lock him up and throw away the key.” That seems like a sad perspective to have toward someone who didn’t actually shoot or kill or rape someone.
    This is a kid we’re talking about, a high school graduate whose mother believed she taught him right from wrong and now her heart is broken. His life is basically over if he gets 13+ years and some of you folks are happy about that?

  • Eric April 11, 2014 (5:00 am)

    Jason: This is a kid we’re talking about, a high school graduate whose mother believed she taught him right from wrong and now her heart is broken. His life is basically over if he gets 13+ years and some of you folks are happy about that?

    Eric: If I remember right from the original story, the mom knew that he had a gun on him and her questioning of him about it was as to whether it was loaded or not. If that’s her idea of right from wrong, I don’t think she should be having kids.

  • WestofJunction April 11, 2014 (6:34 am)

    At 19 you are an adult, not a kid. He could have very easily shot and killed someone, if the bus riders had not been brave enough to subdue him. He did not break into a closed store or someone’s home thinking no one was there. Of course I feel deeply sorry for his mother. Of course, his mother loves him, as I would if one of mine did something like that. But the punishment is appropriate for the crime.

  • Tyrel April 11, 2014 (7:00 am)

    Yeah we are happy that loser is in jail and won’t Rob or Shoot us as we go about our daily activities.

  • Jason April 11, 2014 (7:49 am)

    Eric: I’m curious, do you remember right or are you just kind of putting that out there as fact to support your point of view? I don’t actually know the answer but if that’s a fact maybe you can link us so that at least the ammo you’re giving people here to justify their hatred toward someone has some merit.
    And WestofJunction, at 19 you’re considered an adult yes, but he’s still a young person whose life is now just another number in the prison system and generally that is a tragedy.

  • brad April 11, 2014 (12:33 pm)

    13.5 years is not long enough. Multiple people could have been killed by this urban terrorist. Thank God no one was. He should rot in prison until he’s too old to see straight and needs an adult diaper.

  • Joseph April 11, 2014 (12:43 pm)

    I get really disgusted when people are so horrified when a violent, dangerous punk like this is hauled off to prison for a long time. “He’ll be worse when he gets out”. Oh, please. THINK of how much WORSE of a criminal he’d be if he didn’t go to prison and how many robbery victims and/or murder victims there would be if this dangerous criminal never got caught. One day this could be you who is staring down the barrel of a gun or the tip of a knife blade by some thug who got a too-short sentence.

  • Eric April 11, 2014 (4:54 pm)

    Jason: Eric: I’m curious, do you remember right or are you just kind of putting that out there as fact to support your point of view? I don’t actually know the answer but if that’s a fact maybe you can link us so that at least the ammo you’re giving people here to justify their hatred toward someone has some merit.

    Eric: Actually, I looked it up and saw that it was hearsay, so looking back I remember right reading it, but there is no evidence to back it up. So that was unfair to the mother of me. She was aware that he possibly had a gun and told him not to bring one in the house and that he didn’t need a gun. She frisked him once also to check.

    What is unfortunate is that Trevonnte not only was charged with robbing others on another bus, but had no remorse for doing so according to a report on the WSB.

    Charging documents say Brown confessed to police, said he did not regret what he had done, and “confessed to being involved in multiple additional thefts and robberies over the past few years.”~WSB

  • West Seattle Hipster April 11, 2014 (5:32 pm)

    While I am comforted that Mr. Brown will be incarcerated for probably around 5 years, I feel just a twinge of sympathy for him. Not only will he be going to prison, but he suffered a beat down that was shown on national news. I hope his fellow inmates give him grief over it.

  • kim April 11, 2014 (6:35 pm)

    I’m going back to where I started:
    If my 19-yr.old white (son) with no record were to have committed that same crime, I would be accused of being a terrible mother, but I have this idea that we’d be able to come up with some mental health defense, etc., and he wouldn’t be looking at 13 yrs. in prison. Which, is being discussed and reported in great depth in our society today, and the results are overwhelming that the prison population is nearly all of color; that discipline meted out in schools is overwhelmingly dealt to kids of color, setting them up for further failure. It’s what Waterworld stated above; it’s what was discussed on NPR today by Matt Taibbi and Jeffrey Toobin in their new books.
    It’s reality, and it’s not going to go away. As much as many of you feverishly want revenge, the ramifications are insupportable…financially, socially, morally.
    (Eric: I think it’s unfair for anyone to say whether this teen was remorseful…or not. He was definitely emotionally wrought.)

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