Assistant prosecutor Molly Kettler hugs Charles McGinnis, father of murder victim Abreeya Brown, at the conclusion of sentencing for the four convicted of the killing and torture of his daughter and her friend Ashley Conaway. (John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)
Detroit — After calling one man a "merciless mercenary" and another a "disciple of destruction," a judge on Friday handed down life sentences to three men and lengthy prison time to a fourth in the murders of two young Hamtramck women.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans sentenced Reginald Brown on first-degree murder charges Friday before sentencing Jeremy Brown and Brandon Cain, whom she called the "mastermind" of the murderous plot, to life in prison as well. Brian Lee was given 45-80 years for his role.
The four were convicted of torturing and murdering Abreeya Brown, 18, and Ashley Conaway, 22, earlier this year.
The defendants were brought in separately Friday for a sentencing hearing that lasted nearly three hours. Lawyers for Cain and Reginald Brown argued their presentence reports were inaccurate. Lee's attorney maintained there was no evidence that tied his client to the case, but Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Molly Kettler rebuffed his claims.
They were also sentenced on other charges, including torture and unlawful imprisonment.
Prosecutors say Cain was the ringleader in the plot. Reginald Brown was portrayed as the general contractor and his cousin, Jeremy Brown, as the subcontractor and lookout man.
Evans said that while Cain was a "gifted" person who could persuade others, he "used it in the wrong way."
Latrina Conaway, an older sister of Ashley Conaway, said Cain was a natural leader but a master manipulator of people in a 20-block radius of a northwest side neighborhood.
"You could have led people to be better, but instead you led them to take two innocent young women 'cause Ashley did not want to go home with you," Latrina Conaway said during the sentencing hearing. "You became angry at Ashley. How could you do that? She was the sweetest thing."
The women, best friends, were found shot to death execution style in a shallow grave in Eliza Howell Park near Telegraph and West McNichols.
The pair had been kidnapped at gunpoint outside their Hamtramck home on Andrus Street on Feb. 28 and their bodies found nearly a month later.
Prosecutors, police and family say the women were killed for going to the police in connection with a shooting involving Cain and Lee that occurred in early February that left Conaway, Cain's girlfriend at the time, with a minor head wound.
On Friday, extra deputies were brought into Evans' courtroom, which was packed with family members of the victims, defendants and investigators.
Before Reginald Brown's sentence was read , Latrina Conaway addressed Brown, saying: "I ask that you have no rest ... that you remember what you did."
Abreeya's mother, Lois Brown, said: "It's not about the impact (their murders) had on me. It's about what you did to my child."
Evans called Reginald Brown a "merciless mercenary."
The judge told Jeremy Brown he chose "loyalty over liberty" following his cousin, Reginald, into the kidnapping and murder plot.
Evans called Lee a "disciple of destruction" to his "master of doom" (Cain).
Abreeya's father, Charles McGinnis, told Lee that he "destroyed my world" when he and his friends murdered his daughter and her friend.
But Lee said, "I am an innocent man," and Reginald Brown said, "I'm not guilty of these crimes."
A fifth man, Miguel Rodriguez, was sentenced last week.
Family members planned Friday to visit the graves of the murdered women.