No one in court disputed the fact that Milo Brown faced a mandatory sentence of life without parole for 20 years for his role in the Jan. 2, 2013, murder of Shawn Rhone.
The only contested issue at Brown’s sentencing hearing on Thursday was over the nearly 10 years of prison time he faced for the other crimes he was convicted of committing: aggravated burglary, attempted aggravated robbery, criminal possession of a firearm by a felon and criminal discharge of a firearm. The burglary count charged Brown, 22, with entering Rhone’s 1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass while it was occupied by Rhone.
Prosecutor Monika Hoyt argued that consecutive sentences were warranted, in part, because of Brown’s criminal history. He was paroled less than a month before Rhone was killed after serving time for possession of drugs and criminal possession of a firearm. A jury was told in November that the ankle bracelet he was wearing at the time placed him at the scene of Rhone’s murder.
Defense lawyer Chris Garcia asked for concurrent sentences. He said the felony first-degree murder sentence should not be enhanced by an underlying felony that led to the murder charge.
“Without the inherently dangerous felony, there would be no felony murder,” he said.
Testimony at Brown’s trial in November showed that he was one of four men who lured Rhone to the 1700 block of Northeast Parkway as part of a marijuana deal and shot him twice during an attempted robbery. Rhone then drove a short distance to a QuikTrip at 13th and Oliver before falling out of his car and collapsing on the pavement. Hoyt identified Brown as the one who fired the shots that killed Rhone.
Rhone’s wife and two children were among those attending the hearing, and Brown offered them a brief apology.
“I am sorry for what happened,” he said. “I didn’t mean no harm.”
Sentencing Judge Ben Burgess, a former member of the Kansas Parole Board, said that if he ran the sentences consecutively, Brown would have to serve 20 years before becoming eligible for parole on the murder charge. Only if he is paroled from that sentence, Burgess said, could he begin serving the consecutive portion of his sentence.
“That’s a long time,” Burgess said. “On the other hand, how valuable is the life of Shawn Rhone? He doesn’t have his life.
“I learned a long time ago that the minds of reasonable people might differ, but ultimately I have to make the decision in this case.”
Burgess then imposed a compromise sentence, ordering Brown to serve a five-year sentence on the aggravated burglary charge consecutively to the life sentence on the felony murder conviction. That means that if Brown’s parole is approved by the state’s Prisoner Review Board in 20 years, he could end up serving less than 25 years in custody.