From Staff Reports
The Athens Review
Rico Antonio Brown, 26, of Athens, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Thursday, Jan. 16 by Judge Carter Tarrance of the 392nd District Court.
Brown previously pled guilty to Burglary of a Habitation, which carries a maximum of 20 years, and elected to be sentenced by the court.
Brown was legally eligible, and could have received probation.
During the sentencing hearing, Assistant District Attorneys Daniel Cox and Jenny Palmer presented to the court evidence not only of the burglary to which Brown pled guilty, but also evidence of different offenses committed by Brown after the burglary.
Prosecutors from Scott McKee’s District Attorney’s Office presented evidence that on Nov. 20, 2102, Brown forced his way into the apartment of his girlfriend, while their child was in the home sleeping.
Brown then proceeded to place his hands around his girlfriend’s neck, choking her. When his girlfriend called 911, Brown fled the scene, and warrants were issued for his arrest. After being arrested on the warrants, Brown posted bond, and was released from jail.
While out on bond for the burglary, Brown was confronted in the Walmart parking lot by Officer Bill Carlow of the Athens Police Department.
Carlow discovered that Brown had concealed six fishing reels inside his jacket. When Carlow attempted to arrest Brown for theft, Brown resisted, and a struggle ensued.
At the hearing, Carlow testified to the encounter. Pictures of his injuries were shown, and the video from his patrol car showing the struggle was played before the court.
Prosecutors also presented evidence of another encounter that occurred on May 17, 2013. On this day, Brown was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped by Dep. Jonathan Halbert of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office.
Halbert recognized Brown, knew he had warrants and attempted to place Brown under arrest. Brown also resisted Halbert. A 3-minute struggle ensued where Halbert had to use his pepper spray on Brown. During the struggle, Brown also attempted to take Halbert’s firearm before Halbert was able to safely detain Brown in handcuffs.
Halbert also testified to his struggle with Brown. Photos and videos from that encounter were also shown to Judge Tarrance. During closing arguments, Brown’s defense attorney asked and pled for the court to sentence Brown to probation.
Assistant District Attorney Cox stated, “We are not just asking you to sentence him to prison, just because he deserves it. We are also asking you to send him to prison, because our law enforcement officers deserve it. (Brown) has been a thorn in their side for a long time, give them the break they deserve from having to chase and fight this defendant.”
Judge Tarrance responded with a 15-year sentence for Brown, stating that he found Brown had no respect for his family or law enforcement.
District Attorney Scott McKee indicated that he was very pleased with the prison sentence handed down by Judge Tarrance.
“The City of Athens and our law enforcement officers are a little safer, now that Rico is behind bars,” said McKee.
The District Attorney also stated that Officer Carlow and Deputy Halbert showed great restraint in their treatment of Brown during their struggles with him.
“Things could have ended a lot worse for Brown, had he not by-chance ended up struggling with two very dedicated and competent law enforcement professionals who value human life, and had the training and skills to keep things from getting out-of-hand.”
McKee stated that he was blessed to work with such professionals.