(TOPLINE: Sentencing now over as of 2:50 pm; recommended 14-year sentence, top end of range, given by judge, but she says she could recommend to state Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board that he never get out)
1:59 PM: We’re at the King County Courthouse, Superior Court Judge Julie Spector‘s courtroom, for the sentencing of 25-year-old Christopher A. Brown.
(WSB photo by Patrick Sand)
He pleaded guilty last month (as reported here) in the March rape/beating of a 58-year-old woman near 22nd/Roxbury – a crime so brutal that deputies went door to door in the area for weeks, scouring for clues. Finally, a DNA match led to Brown, arrested in June in Oklahoma. The victim’s daughter told WSB yesterday that her mother will speak at this hearing, as she and her 9-year-old daughter plan to do. We’ll update live as it goes.
The prosecutor opened by explaining that this was a plea agreement, with a sentence of 171 months recommended – 14 years and 3 months. “This is one of the more serious assaults and rapes that we encountered in this courtroom. … I think the facts in this case (mean) the high end is appropriate in this case.” She says 4 family members want to speak. The 9-year-old granddaughter speaks first. When I look at you all I see is a monster that hurt my grandma…. It is painful to know you would want to cause so much pain. … After you left her for dead, when she came home, her eyes were swollen, and her body was sore.” She speaks of her grandmother’s difficulty in eating. “What you did broke my heart … You are a monster. You will never amount to anything … (but) as a family, you have made us stronger.”
Next, the little girl’s mother speaks, saying most of her thoughts “would be inappropriate to say in front of children. … I want you to know that the forgiveness from anyone you know … is irrelevant. … The only forgiveness that matters aside from your God … is that of my family and my mother, who you harmed.” She speaks of being “on the floor, crying” after finding out what happened to her mother. Her little girl, she says, was at the kitchen door and heard everything. When she saw her badly injured mother, “never in my life have I seen such a condition” but she tried hard to be strong in front of her. “My mother is a survivor, and as broken as you left her, she survived … most of all, she survived to see this day, when you would be prosecuted, and not able to hurt anyone else.” She asks the judge to “remove him from society … my mother was a stranger in the night, just passing by .. please give us justice and security of him remaining in supervision.”
Another family member says she is disturbed that Brown will have a chance someday to offend again: “I am left with this taunting question: Who will protect us” when he gets out again? “He left the victim naked, left her to die, left her in need of surgery to repair her face … “we will always see what you did to her,” she says to Brown. “… The only thing I can hope is that … you will be given more than 14 years … if you can do this to a stranger walking down the street, with such evil in your heart … to do such acts of violence not just to a woman, but to a grandmother … a wife, a mom, a human being …” She and others have mentioned that apparently Brown is a father-to-be.
Now, the victim speaks.
(Added: Video of survivor speaking. Low audio level – we weren’t allowed to record from jury box)
“I am the woman who was polite when asked for a cigarette … I even gave him a light for his cigarette … he made comments … I let them roll off my back … It didn’t matter to you that it was a main street, you came up behind me, wrapped your arms around my neck, choked me … told me you would kill me … at that instant, I woke up unconscious on the ground, to you kicking me, you told me, ‘you’re not dead yet, I’m not through with you’.”
She speaks in a strong voice, a furious voice, as she addresses him. She says her family “wasn’t raised to run around and do stuff to people and you weren’t raised that way either.” She says she has trouble eating and when she yawns “I hear all this metal snapping in my ears.” Her grandchildren are afraid to kiss her. “But I want you to understand this is never going to be over … your children will know about this because every year on the anniversary of your attack on me, I’m calling Oklahoma, I’m calling the newspapers, I’m telling everyone what you did to me …” She says she has worked in health care, and as a school-bus driver, but can’t do that any more because of the disabilities she’s left with, saying “no one will hire me because of this … Are you going to support my family? Are you going to support me, because of what you did?”
She speaks of her family’s concern for her safety. “If I had my way when this was all finished, I’m changing the laws … you left me for dead, now I have to worry for the rest of my life. … Monsters are supposed to be for Halloween … who the parents say, ‘there’s nothing under your bed’ … but the monster you are, there’s no cure for … because you don’t care about women, even the mother of your children that you beat while she was pregnant. … A man doesn’t do that. Humans don’t do that.”
Brown tries to say something and is rebuked. “You’ve got NOTHING to say to me.” She says she will seek restitution relentlessly. “You will not enjoy life to the fullest … by coming back out at 39 years old. The streets are going to know what you are about. Nobody can stop me from plastering your photo all over the streets of the United States.” She then points out the young grandson who has been standing by the bench with her, saying she had taught him about enunciation but can’t speak that way any more.
She talks about how she survived that night, how the detectives don’t know how she did, but she again says every year she will make sure as many people as possible know what he did. “This is a hate crime against all women.” She derides him for believing it’s “OK to beat pregnant women and old ladies” and tells him he messed with the wrong family.
2:26 PM: The survivor’s oldest daughter speaks now, calling Brown “a monster who does not deserve another chance in life with anyone.” She speaks about how her sense of security was ruined, how she used to love helping people … “I was upset when they wanted to give out candy for Halloween. I didn’t want them to turn on the porch light. … I saw my mother at the hospital the night this happened, before they could even give her anything for pain, because she was so broken.” But – “My mother is still beautiful .. her spirit is broken and shattered but she has the strength of our family. We ask that you give him as much time as you can if not more so he understands …” She speaks of her mother praying for their safety when they were young, and now she is doing that to make sure she knows what your mother is doing 24/7 “because I know there can be other people like him.”
Brown’s lawyer now speaks, saying if he had that kind of a family, “none of us would be here.” He says Brown was an abused child and was in prison early, and was a rape victim behind bars. After a few minutes, Brown speaks softly to say he apologizes for what he did.
Now, Judge Spector says the 171 months is the most she can sentence him to for the rape. She says that Brown’s family did not confirm his claims of growing up, abused, in a tough neighborhood, “so it’s unclear to the court where this behavior originates. There’s no excuse for it (regardless). … For your sake, I hope you ARE mentally ill, because it’s the only explanation for what you did to this family. It doesn’t justify it, it sort of explains it.”
She says she knows the area where it happened “very well” because she has a friend who lives in the area, “but it doesn’t really matter where it occurred … it occurred here, it affected those individuals, it was done by you and no one else.” She says she can’t give him any more time legally but she can recommend to the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board “that you never get out.”
She says the attack is “the nightmare of every woman,” an attack by a stranger as she walks down the street. “There’s no justification … I deal with people like you all the time. I am going to sentence you to the highest possible sentence … I wish it were longer … I wish it could be life … who wants to take a chance on somebody who’s (attacked) a pregnant woman and now … how many chances can (you get)? I think you’re done.” And she pronounces the 171-month sentence (for rape, with the assault/robbery sentences concurrent, and credit for the 162 days he has been in jail since his June arrest in Oklahoma). If he gets out, she says, he will be on community custody (probation) for life. And he will have to register as a sex offender, for the rest of his life.
FOOTNOTE: We’ll have to follow up with prosecutors regarding the mention of the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board. Reviewing its website, this seems to be what might apply.