DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A Detroit man was sentenced to prison on Tuesday for fatally shooting a 12-year-old girl during a dispute between his mother and the girl’s mother over a cell phone.
Joshua Brown, 21, will spend 26 years in prison before he is eligible for release, but could spend up to 52 years in prison under the sentence handed down by a Wayne County judge. Brown was found guilty in the 2012 shooting of sixth-grader Kade’jah Davis-Talton, who was struck by shots fired through the door of her home.
A jury last month found Brown guilty of second-degree murder, assault with intent to murder and possession of a firearm during a felony.
Prosecutors say Brown accompanied his mother, Heather, to confront Kade’jah’s mother, Almanda Talton, over the disappearance of Heather Brown’s cell phone. Talton told the Detroit Free Press that Joshua Brown, then 19-years-old, came to her home on Ferguson, near 7 Mile Road and the Southfield Freeway, believing she had the phone.
Talton said the misunderstanding arose after she went to a home-based tax business to discuss a refund she hadn’t received. She was told an IRS mistake was to blame. While there, she said she found a cell phone in the restroom and handed it to one of the office workers.
When Joshua Brown arrived at her home, Talton said she thought he was there to discuss her refund, not to accuse her of taking the cell phone. She told him that she didn’t have the phone and after a brief conversation, closed the door.
Moments later, shots were fired into the home, striking Kade’jah. The girl, a sixth grade honor roll student at University Yes Academy in Detroit, was taken to an area hospital where she died.
Police say Heather Brown drove her son away from the home after the shooting. The duo was arrested less than six hours later.
“Ms. Brown, all I can say is that if you had not made your son your crutch, we would not be here today,” Circuit Judge Vonda Evans said during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing. “Instead of teaching your child to accept loss, you taught him to get even.”
The judge praised Kade’jah as a “perfect student, perfect daughter, perfect friend and perfect person.”
The girl’s aunt, Tamara Laney, read a letter from Talton, calling Brown a “coward.” “I thank God this terror is off the street,” Talton wrote in the letter.
Given the opportunity to speak, Joshua Brown, apologized to his family and offered condolences to Kade’jah’s family.
Heather Brown pleaded no contest to being an accessory after the fact for driving her son to Kade’jah’s home. She was sentenced in 2012 to five years of probation.
“The judge has a right to her opinion. It’s not one I agree with,” she said after the sentencing, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Brown maintained their innocence and vowed to appeal.
It was the second trial for Joshua Brown, who was charged with first-degree murder. A judge declared a mistrial in the first trial.
TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.