A District of Columbia Superior Court judge sentenced Jan. 2 a murder defendant to 19.5 years in prison per the terms of a plea agreement. But, the victim’s family said the plea was a “cop out.”
In December, Antonio Brown pleaded guilty to second-degree murder while armed and carrying a pistol without a license for his role in the death of 25-year-old Charles Antonio Welch on the 1800 block of Harvard Street, NW in 2015.
Welch’s family and friends expressed discontent for the plea agreement, saying they didn’t think the government should’ve extended an offer. Welch’s sister said the plea agreement was a “cop out” and a “walk in the park.”
“My brother has five kids,” the sister said. “He’ll never be able to teach them how to be men.”
Welch’s brother addressed the court saying he served a prison sentence for murder and knows that 19.5 years is not enough time. “That blood is stained on your hands forever,” he said.
“As you sit in that cage,” the brother continued. “You’ll realize you wish you could take it back.”
Brown’s co-defendant and former girlfriend Amanda Turner pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and threat to kidnap or injure a person. Turner, 41, is slated to be sentenced on March 8.
According to court documents, a witness told police they saw Brown, 30, park a black car in a parking lot on Harvard Street and Welch park a white car in the same parking lot shortly after.
Apparently, Brown got out of the car with a gun and fired a single shot into the white car. The prosecution said Welch’s pregnant girlfriend and 4-year-old son were both in the car during the shooting.
D.C. Witness previously reported that Turner threatened a witness, saying the person was “next.” According to the prosecution, Turner also sent threatening text messages to another witness and attempted to bribe witnesses with drugs.
Welch’s mother spoke directly to Brown and said she doesn’t hate him. Instead, the mother said she holds Turner responsible for her son’s death. According to the mother, Turner manipulated Brown into killing her son.
Subsequently, the prosecution acknowledged the family’s discontent with the plea agreement but said one of the eyewitnesses had mental difficulties that may have impacted the jury’s decision. The prosecutor said it takes one juror to cause a mistrial or acquittal.
Prior to sentencing Brown, Judge Ronna Beck gave her condolences to the family and said that a sentence is not the “valuation of a life.” She also echoed the prosecution’s explanation about trial outcomes, saying that a lot of cases that appear to be strong result in a hung jury or acquittal and can be dragged on for years. Judge Beck noted that the process can take a toll on witnesses and family members, among others.
Brown will serve five years on supervised release following his release from prison.