Courtroom Fight Follows Sentencing

AP, Nov. 11

TACOMA—A fight broke out in a courtroom here Thursday after a 19-year-old man was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the beating death of a man last winter.

Andrew Brown was sentenced in the slaying of 69-year-old Darrel Johnson, a Navy submarine veteran and retired port electrician. Brown pleaded guilty in October to first-degree murder in Pierce County Superior Court.

After the judge sentenced Brown, the families began yelling at each other. A melee broke out when one woman complained that the sentence was unfairly long, given the victim’s age.

“The man was 69, he wasn’t going to live forever,” she said.

The brawl lasted about 20 seconds as security officers and sheriff’s deputies stepped in to keep would-be combatants separated. The courtroom was packed with friends and relatives of Brown and Johnson.

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!<)../../johnson.jpg! TACOMA—A Pierce County judge Thursday sentenced 19-year-old Andrew Brown to 30 years in prison for the brutal beating death of Darrel Johnson as families of the two men scuffled in the courtroom. Johnson, a retired Port of Tacoma maintenance electrician, was just weeks shy of his 70th birthday when he was attacked January 8 during the daily walk he takes through his east Tacoma neighborhood. !(>../../abrown.jpg! He was near his home at 69th and McKinley walking with the help of a cane he has used since hip replacement surgery. Witnesses said the attacker knocked Johnson to the ground, kicked him in the face, and began stomping on his head before running away.

He died in the hospital one week after the attack.

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The motive for the beating was robbery, though nothing was taken from the victim except his life.

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