Man gets life in prison for 2013 killing of trooper in Dinwiddie

Man gets life in prison for 2013 killing of trooper in Dinwiddie
Russell Ervin Brown (Source: NBC12)
Russell Ervin Brown (Source: NBC12)

DINWIDDIE, VA (WWBT) - The jury handed down a sentence of life in prison on Wednesday for the man who killed Master Trooper Junius Walker in 2013.

The defense had argued this week that Russell E. Brown thought he was acting out God's will and was following the law of Christ when he killed Walker.

Brown had faced the death penalty, but a jury decided after deliberating for more than three hours to hand down two life sentences and an additional 23 years.

Brown's sister testified on Tuesday that he was always protective and loving towards her and her twin. On the stand she said, "the person who committed this crime wasn't my brother."

During the trial in July, Dinwiddie Commonwealth's Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill recognized that Brown suffers from mental illness, but argued that "a bad decision is not insanity."

"There is no lack of sympathy or compassion, but there is no license to kill," she said.

Earlier in the trial, Thomas Hales testified he saw a police cruiser in the woods and another car slightly behind it on March 7, 2013, on I-85. Fearing the worst, he pulled over and backed up.

He testified he found Walker slumped inside his vehicle with no obvious injuries. Hales says seconds later, a slim man holding a gun across his chest popped up from the passenger side of the police cruiser.

Hales says he got out of there and into his truck when he heard shots fired. Several hit the truck. One went through the passenger window and out the windshield before he was able to drive away and call 911.

The jury found Brown guilty last week of capital murder, attempted capital murder, attempted first-degree murder and three firearms charges in connection with Walker's death. The jury now will now decide the punishment for five other charges.

The Walker family tells NBC12 it's been a long road, but they're relieved Russell Brown will never be a free man again.

Wearing the blue and gray of the state police, the Walker family stands united.

"I think overall this was a win for the Walker family, at minimum, he'll never be a free man again and I think that's something to come away with, 'cause we weren't guaranteed that," says Walker's daughter, Vera Walker Jordan.

For Walker's widow, Elizabeth, Wednesday's sentencing was a little bit of closure

"I feel like Walker has really gotten justice and we've waited a long time for that," she says nodding.

While a jury found Brown guilty of capital murder, it decided not to give him the death penalty, something daughter Clarissa is still coming to terms with.

"That is a knife to my heart, it hurts. I wish things would've been a little different," Clarissa Walker Owen says sadly.

The Commonwealth's attorney says she pleased with Wednesday's outcome.

"We knew they would do the right thing and do a just thing, and they did," explains Ann Baskervill.

It was a sentiment shared by Brown's attorney, as well.

"We're grateful where they ended up today, and we feel that was the right result," explains defense attorney Jacqueline Reiner.

Brown will now be transferred out of Central State Hospital to the local jail. A pre-sentencing investigation will be performed and then a formal sentencing hearing will be set next month. [if !supportLineBreakNewLine]

Copyright 2016 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved