Citing his desire to see a 15-year-old murder suspect rehabilitated, a Spokane County judge ruled that the boy will be charged as a juvenile and not as an adult.
Brandon R. Molony, 15, is one of two boys charged with robbing and murdering Kenneth D. Brown last November in an alley near the corner of Northwest Boulevard and Maple Street.
Authorities say Molony and Nicholas Limpert, also 15, planned to rob Brown, who was 57 and mildly mentally disabled. During the robbery, Molony allegedly pulled a knife and began to stab Brown. Molony later admitted to stabbing Brown at least 12 times before slicing off his fanny pack, according to records. He turned 15 just six days after the killing.
Molony could be confined to juvenile detention until age 21 if his case goes to trial and he’s convicted. That compares to at least a minimum 20-year prison sentence he could have received if tried and convicted as an adult.
A hearing is scheduled to begin this morning regarding the adult/juvenile status of Limpert.
Friends of Brown’s were outraged by Superior Court Judge Neal Rielly’s decision made late Friday.
“He (Brown) loved everybody. He would always ask you, `you’re my friend, right?”’ Mary King said Monday. “These young men clearly picked him out and brutally murdered him.”
Rielly admitted part of him wanted to see Molony punished in the adult system because his victim was vulnerable. But in the end the judge said he thought that would do more harm than good.
“The rehabilitative services offered in the juvenile system are far superior to others offered to youth offenders in the adult system,” Rielly said.
Defense attorney Scott Mason said he’s sure Molony can be rehabilitated.
“He’s just fallen through the cracks along the way,” Mason said. “No one’s ever spent much time with him.”
“I think Brandon is amenable to treatment,” Rielly said.
Rielly said he thought there was a good chance Molony would have been even more dangerous after getting out of prison for adults.
But Brown’s friends pointed to Molony’s extensive criminal background in their desire to see him tried as an adult.
The three-day hearing to determine Molony’s status - which was originally scheduled to take place last December - was repeatedly delayed because attorneys needed more time to investigate his past crimes.
Prosecutors will now try to persuade Judge Greg Sypolt to allow them to charge Limpert as an adult for his alleged role in Brown’s murder. Both have been charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree felony murder.
Limpert is from Spokane and has no prior convictions.
Prosecutors say Molony and Limpert should be charged as adults because of the seriousness of the crime.
Deputy Prosecutor Bill Reeves said there’s been no discussion between prosecutors and defense attorneys about a possible plea bargain for either of the boys. Reeves declined to comment about Rielly’s decision.
But those who loved Brown weren’t short on words about a man they called a hard worker. His work ethic was best described by his last words, revealed in court papers, King said.
“His dying last words were, `I’ve never been hurt like this before. I have to go to work tomorrow,”’ King said.
King works for Jet Services of Spokane, which helps employ disabled and disadvantaged people. Brown was working in maintenance at Fairchild Air Force Base.
Jody Nilles, human services director for Spokane’s Pre-Vocational Training - which is affiliated with Jet - said she knew Brown for 10 years.
“I was deeply disappointed that Molony will not be tried as an adult,” Nilles said. “I truly hope that Ken’s life was not taken in vain and that those responsible are held accountable for their vicious actions.”
Court records show Molony has an extensive criminal record in Western Washington. At age 12 he was arrested for carrying a gun into a Bellingham school. He pleaded guilty last year to two felony charges in that incident - possession and delivery of a firearm. He was sentenced to 20 days in jail.
In that incident, Molony brought an antique derringer in a wooden box to school to show a friend what he’d found. The boy then told Molony he’d better sell the gun to him for $5 or else he would tell school officials Molony had the gun, Mason said.
Soon after, Molony was arrested in Snohomish County for felony assault. He pleaded guilty again, getting one day in detention, court records said.
In June 2000, Molony was arrested for kicking a hole in a wall at a Bellingham alternative school. After pleading guilty to malicious mischief he was ordered to undergo counseling and remain on probation. He violated probation when he ran away from his Bellingham home in October.
Molony and Limpert will be formally arraigned once the hearing regarding Limpert’s status as an adult or juvenile is complete, prosecutor Reeves said.
No trial date has been set.