In his first public comments since his arrest in August 2012, Brandon Brown maintained his innocence in the June 2012 murder of Iowa City man Donelle Lindsey.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” said Brown, turned to face Lindsey’s family. “I’m sorry for that, but I didn’t kill him.”
The sentence for first-degree is life in prison. Brown also was ordered to pay $150,000 in victim restitution and $8,210 to the crime-victim-assistance program.
During the lengthy statement, made Monday at the Johnson County Courthouse during Brown’s sentencing for first-degree murder, Brown claimed that there was no evidence to convict him and that he was unable to get a fair trial from a predominantly white jury.
Brown was found guilty of murdering Lindsey in November.
“I don’t feel like I got a fair conviction or a fair trial,” Brown said.
Brown was accused of killing Lindsey on June 21, 2012, in Iowa City. Testimony showed Lindsey had spent the day with his friend, DiMarco Harris, at an apartment complex on Petsel Place on Iowa City's west side. Brown had spent the afternoon with his friend, Byron Fisher.
The four men converged sometime around 11:26 p.m. that day. Harris’ and Fisher’s testimony offered different accounts of what came next, but both men agreed that Brown shot Lindsey several times at close range. A medical examiner testified Lindsey was shot five times, with two of the bullets piercing Lindsey’s heart, liver and kidney.
A third state witness, Nicole Blosser, testified she drove Brown to Chicago the night of the shooting and heard Brown confess to shooting Lindsey.
Brown called into question the veracity of those witnesses, as did his attorneys, who requested a new trial based on a lack of evidence. Before the sentencing began, Judge Marsha Bergan denied that request, stating the basic elements of the witnesses' testimony essentially were in agreement that Brown killed Lindsey.
While Brown professed his innocence on several occasions, it was clear Lindsey’s family had no doubt in their minds about his guilt. Each time Brown claimed he didn’t kill Lindsey, a family member in the back of the courtroom quietly responded, “Yes, you did.”
Lindsey’s mother and sister – Marvella Lindsey and Teonna Eason – both made victim-impact statements.
“I don’t feel sorry for Brandon,” Marvella Lindsey said. “I feel sorry for his mother. I feel sorry for what he has taken from each of us as a parent.”
Lindsey said her son was loved and told Brown the two men might have been friends had Brown not killed him. Lindsey also lamented that her son didn’t live long enough to give her any grandchildren.
The mother told Brown that she moved her son to Iowa City when he was eight years old to escape the violence of Chicago. She said she was shocked when she heard he was gunned down in Iowa City.
“I brought my son here to not get killed,” she said. “When I found my son was dead, I couldn’t believe it, not here in Iowa City.”
Added Lindsey, “He took not only his life, but he took some of mine too … . I’m not going to forgive him.”
Eason said her brother’s murder also affected her eight-year-old son. Eason said Lindsey took her and her son in and looked after them. She’s now left worrying how Lindsey’s murder will affect her son.
“We all miss my brother very much, very much,” she said.
Brown has 30 days to appeal the conviction, which he said he will do.“I didn’t kill this man,” he said. “I’m going to have to fight to the Supreme Court to get my freedom back.”