Brown V begins six-month jail stay
A Cedar Ridge man who shot and killed his father has started serving six months in jail on a sentence that includes treatment for drug and alcohol abuse and five years of probation.
Judge Julie McManus handed down the sentence this week in the case of Franklin Brown V, who shot his father, Franklin Brown IV, during an argument March 18 at the elder Brown’s home on Cedar Ridge Drive.
In addition to the 180 days in jail, McManus ordered Brown to spend six months in a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility after his release from Wayne Brown Correctional Facility.
Two months after his release from the treatment program, Brown also must start paying $924 in court fines and fees in monthly payments of $50.
The ruling shocked the victim’s sister. “I am so angry about this sentence,” the victim’s sister, April Brandt, wrote in an e-mail to The Union. “Franklin (Brown V) is literally getting away with murder.”
Brown told sheriff’s investigators the day of the shooting he thought his father was going to kill him. The elder Brown told a 911 dispatcher he and his son had been fighting before he was shot.
The defendant was the subject of some controversy when he was accidentally released from jail two days after he was booked for manslaughter.
District Attorney Cliff Newell attributed the mistake to a miscommunication between his office and the sheriff’s office. The confusion surrounded a state law that requires inmates be released if they are not arraigned on charges within 48 hours.
Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson filed charges before the 48 hours was up, Newell said, but Brown’s arraignment date for those charges would have exceeded the time limit.
Deputies re-arrested Brown the day after his release outside his ex-girlfriend’s house in Placer County.
Brown originally pleaded innocent to two charges of voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. He was charged that way to cover all bases, said Newell, in case the sheriff’s investigation uncovered evidence that the killing was intentional.
Brown later pleaded no contest April 11 to involuntary manslaughter.
Public Defender Don Lown said the sentence is suitable because “an unintentional killing is not a murder.”
The younger Brown had no prior criminal record, and he most likely would have been acquitted on grounds of self-defense had the case gone to trial, Lown said.
His client pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter to save his father’s reputation, Lown said.
“I proposed this because we agreed that, at worst, this was an imperfect self-defense,” Lown said Thursday. “This saves all of the family from the heartache of a trial and dragging his father’s reputation through the dirt.”
Plea bargain questioned
Brandt, however, found little comfort in the case’s resolution.
“This is wrong,” she said. “Franklin got away with murder and all of us will never be the same again. When justice is not served, it becomes nearly impossible to find closure.”
Brandt criticized the district attorney’s handling of the case.
“Why was the prosecution so willing to pop out a plea bargain without even having any interest in hearing about his past?” Brandt said. “I believe it’s because they simply did not want to take the time to try this case because it was domestic in nature, and there were no witnesses. Perhaps (it’s) because my nephew had no past criminal record.”
District Attorney Cliff Newell and Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson, who began working for the DA’s office March 19, could not be reached to comment on the case Thursday; they were attending a conference in Napa.
The younger Brown was “in constant fear of his father,” who allegedly was alcoholic and often hit his son and pulled guns on him, the defendant’s ex-girlfriend, Sadie Rowland, said in April.
Rowland and the younger Brown have a 2-year-old daughter together, but she would not allow Brown to live with her in Granite Bay because he often fought with her, she said.
“Yes, (the younger Brown) had some issues,” Rowland said, “but look at the way he was raised. What do you expect?”
The elder Brown was arrested Dec. 20, 2006, after he crashed his Ford F250 truck into his neighbor’s tree on Cedar Ridge Drive, according to the sheriff’s office.
As he was about to be booked into jail on suspicion of drunken driving, Brown IV told jail staff he was hiding a loaded minirevolver behind his scrotum, held in place by his briefs.
Two months after the crash, the district attorney charged the elder Brown with drunken driving, drunken driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or more, obstructing, resisting or delaying a police officer and carrying a concealed weapon.
The elder Brown has never been convicted of a felony in Nevada County, according to court records. Brown moved here from Rifle, Colo., several years ago, police said.
Father and son had a contentious relationship, Lown said, but he would not reveal what they were arguing about immediately before the shooting.
The younger Brown is remorseful about the killing and often has nightmares about shooting his father, Lown said.
“My client wouldn’t want me making comments that diminish his father’s reputation,” Lown said. “He loves his father and misses him.”
To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@ theunion.com or call 477-4236.
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