Killer sentenced to 25 years

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Friday was an emotional day in court as the suspect in a high profile murder case was sentenced.  Willie Seaward will spend the next 25 years in prison for the murder of Michael Brown Jr.  He was shot and killed after a fight at a nightclub in downtown Richmond.

The long sentence surprised some people.  The judge actually exceeded the sentencing guidelines by almost four years.  He cited aggravating circumstances surrounding the shooting, saying Seaward had plenty of chances to change this tragic outcome.

Emotions ran high in the courtroom.

"It was hard to watch at times because just how tragic it was for everyone involved," said Det. Rick Edwards.

The Richmond Police veteran has been with Michael Brown Jr.'s family every step of the way since Brown was gunned down about an hour after a fight inside Club Aurora last March.  Willie Seaward pleaded guilty in October.  The high end of the sentencing guidelines for the second-degree murder and gun charges called for about 21 years in prison.

Friday, a judge said Seaward will serve more time because he had time to change his mind.

"Willie Seaward was in the altercation with Michael and a group of his friends, left the scene, went to the West End, met up with another individual, retrieved a firearm, drove back to the scene, got out of his car, stood there with them for several minutes," explained Det. Edwards.

Then, testimony showed Seaward shot Brown in the back of the neck, severing his spinal cord.

The 20-year-old's life wasn't the only one shattered.

"He was my best, my very best and for him to be gone like this, it doesn't make sense," Brown's father sobbed in a press conference after the murder.

His father grabbed headlines for a tearful plea to find the killer, of which is a search he wouldn't live to see the end.  Brown Sr. passed away one month before Seaward was arrested, some said of a broken heart.

Det. Edwards said there was a void in court Friday but hopes this would have given Michael Sr. some sense of closure.

"I think he would have said that justice was found for Michael Jr.," he told us.

We've learned Seaward has said if he could go back and change that night, he would.  Edwards thinks this sentence will send a message.  If people understood the consequences of their actions, they might make different choices.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.