New Jersey man already serving life sentenced to 93 years for killing 3 Washington men in 2014
Sara Jean Green/The Seattle Times (TNS)
Leroy Henderson, who had moved from Indiana to Skyway to care for his uncle, went to the store for chips and grape soda. He was shot 10 times in the back on his way home.
Ahmed Said and Dwone Anderson-Young were executed five weeks later in a car after a night out with friends, their bodies riddled with bullets left on the street in Seattle’s Leschi neighborhood.
Their murderer – a former Seattle resident who fled to New Jersey, randomly shot a young college student and committed a series of other crimes in June 2014 as part of his self-proclaimed jihad against US policy in the Middle East – was sentenced to life in prison for his crimes on the East Coast.
After eight long years for the families of the men killed here, Ali Muhammad Brown, 37, was sentenced in King County Superior Court on Friday to 93 years in prison on three counts of first-degree premeditated murder, ensuring he will die behind bars. He is to be sent back to New Jersey to serve his sentence.
Brown pleaded guilty to the murder charges in Washington in June.
Senior Assistant District Attorney John Castleton said Brown randomly shot Henderson, a 30-year-old man from Gary, Indiana, on April 27, 2014, “as a test” to see if he could kill for his cause. Castleton said Brown targeted Said, 27, and Anderson-Young, 23, likely because they were gay.
“As the court knows, the laws change all the time. I don’t know what’s going on in New Jersey, [but] I have no certainty that these sentences will stand,” Castleton told Judge Jim Rogers as he pleaded for a de facto life sentence for murder, even though Brown has already been sentenced to life in prison. “These lives matter.”
Although defense attorney George Eppler encouraged Rogers to have Brown serve his sentences in New Jersey and Washington at the same time, “the punishment for these savage offenses begins today and not after his death.” , the judge instead ordered that the sentences be served consecutively. — an apparent future guarantee against his release, should Brown ever be released from New Jersey police custody.
“I’ve waited eight years to have my day in court and talk about my son,” Falana Young said, her face streaked with tears as she addressed Rogers while holding a photo of Anderson-Young. “Dwone was so smart, so smart…He was wise beyond his years.”
At age 14, Anderson-Young told his mother he was gay.
“I said, ‘I don’t care, I love you, you’re my son,'” Young told the judge. “My concern was, ‘You’re black, you’re male and you’re gay and not everyone is going to accept you’…and my fear came true.”
Brown created a profile on Grindr, a gay dating app, and exchanged messages with Said, who along with Anderson-Young and other friends spent the night of May 31, 2014 at R Place, a Capitol Hill gay club that has since closed, court records show. Later, Said offered Brown and Anderson-Young a ride home, and Brown killed the men three doors down from Young’s house, records show.
“These men were good men. They didn’t even have criminal records,” Young said of Brown’s victims. “Leroy was taking care of his uncle. Said was working two jobs. My son moved out to help me pay for my daughter to go to college…He killed those men and they’re never coming back.”
She said she was unmoved by Brown’s traumatic childhood or his claim that he killed for Allah, a claim he has since seemingly renounced. Instead, Young accused Brown of killing his son and Said out of self-hatred.
Joanne Thornton said Brown “had just picked someone out of the clear blue sky to kill” when he shot Henderson, his “little cousin”. She said the uncle Henderson cared for died a year later, followed a year later by Henderson’s father, who fell ill and lost the will to live after his son’s death.
“If I could kill him, I would kill him myself – he took three innocent lives,” Thornton said of Brown. “Leroy and those two other kids didn’t need to die.”
Brown, who his attorneys say has been diagnosed with delusions and post-traumatic stress disorder, spent most of Friday’s two-hour sentencing hearing staring straight ahead. He apologized to the families of his victims, said he was wrong in his pursuit of Islamic jihad and vowed to be a better man.
“I realize that deep down I made mistakes. Taking people’s lives and stealing them – all of those things are bad,” Brown said. “I know I’m a little messed up in my mind…but I’m still a good person.”
Before handing down his sentence, Rogers expressed his sadness for the families of the victims and the senselessness of the murders. Although he acknowledged Brown’s “horrific childhood”, Rogers said he cannot ignore the number and severity of Brown’s crimes – and the danger he poses.
“You’re going to be in jail for the rest of your natural life,” Rogers said.