One boy shed tears before his victim’s family and friends. The other repeatedly smirked and laughed.
“I don’t know where to begin. I’m really sorry for what I’ve done,” said 15-year-old Brandon Molony as he was sentenced for first-degree murder Tuesday.
Molony appeared remorseful and teary-eyed before the court. By contrast, co-defendant Nicholas Limpert, also 15, showed no remorse.
When Superior Court Judge Neal Rielly asked him if he had anything to say, Limpert stood up and said: “I don’t know. I ain’t got nothing to say.”
Molony and Limpert were sentenced to juvenile detention until age 21 for their roles in the murder of 57-year-old Ken Brown in November. The boys robbed Brown, then Molony stabbed him 12 times in an alley near a gas station at Northwest Boulevard and Maple Street.
The boys pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. Under terms of their pleas, both could be released six months before they turn 21, depending on their behavior in detention. Molony fled to Spokane after running away from his home in Bellingham. He was arrested for carrying a gun to school when he was 12, and last June he was arrested for kicking a hole in a wall at a Bellingham alternative school.
Limpert, from Spokane, had no prior criminal history. His parents declined comment Tuesday.
Molony’s mother, Paula Thomas, apologized to Brown’s family in court. She apologized to Brown’s sister, Janice Murray, after the sentencing.
“My thoughts are with them every day,” Thomas said in court. “Mr. Brown deserved to live. I’m so sorry.”
Murray told Molony and Limpert they took the life of the most “gentle person” she’d ever known. “This vicious deed that has been done has broken my heart permanently.”
Outside the court, Murray and her husband, Lynn Murray, said they didn’t think Molony was remorseful despite his tearful apology. They called Limpert’s actions despicable.
Other family members criticized the judge for his decision to try the boys as juveniles.
Compelling testimony came from eyewitness Gino Bruno, who was pumping gas at a Texaco station when he heard Brown screaming for his life.
“When I was 10, I lost my father the exact same way,” Bruno said in court. Finding Brown “was absolutely the most brutal thing I have ever seen.”
Bruno said he got in his car and pursued the boys down the alley as they fled on foot.
“You guys are really lucky,” Bruno said. “Brandon, I was trying to run you down. Had my wife not been there, I would be sitting in your seat right now.”
Bruno said the sight of Brown brought back the horrible pain of losing his father as a boy.
“I just pray that you guys somehow come out of this rehabilitated,” Bruno said.
The possibility of rehabilitation is why the boys were tried as juveniles and not as adults.
Rielly, who presided over Molony’s case, and Judge Greg Sypolt, who presided over Limpert’s, believe the boys can emerge from detention as productive members of society because the juvenile system is better able to rehabilitate than the adult system, Rielly said.
Rielly said if the boys had been convicted as adults, the community would have been safer for the 18 to 20 years they would have been in prison. However, he said, the boys probably would have been more violent after their release.
Rielly said he was willing to accept the public criticism for his decision.
“I believe Brandon is amenable to treatment,” Rielly said.
Sypolt was not in the courtroom for the sentencings.