EVERETT — A Lynnwood man, in trouble with the law on and off since he was 12, was sentenced to 3½ years in prison Monday for causing a friend’s death while trying to avoid a traffic stop.
Brandon Ralph Winston Brown, who turns 31 later this month, on Feb. 24 slammed a Nissan Altima into a rock wall in Everett. A passenger in the backseat, Athena Pishue, 37, died from injuries received in the crash.
Brown was speeding away from an Everett police sergeant who had attempted to pull him over for driving a car with the headlights off. There was no police chase. Brown, however, was driving an estimated 80 mph prior to losing control.
He pleaded guilty last month to a single count of vehicular homicide.
Pishue was his friend, and if he could, he’d change places with her, Brown told Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Joseph Wilson.
The judge said he had a hard time taking what Brown said seriously. The defendant has been appearing in front of judges and offering similar words for years, starting in juvenile court, he said.
“You’ve been lashing out at your community and the world for most of your life,” Wilson said.
Brown already has done prison time for robbery, heroin possession and felony gun crimes as well as raking up nearly two dozen misdemeanor convictions, records show.
People have been warning Brown for years that if he didn’t change his ways, somebody was going to be hurt, and now that’s happened, the judge said.
The 41-month sentence was the maximum punishment under state sentencing guidelines, given Brown’s criminal history.
The judge urged Brown to spend the time behind bars exploring why his life has become a series of crimes, arrests and incarcerations.
While the judge spoke, Pishue’s mother, Dora Madison, quietly wept. Earlier, the slain woman’s aunt had urged Wilson to impose the top punishment, but also made clear that the family hopes the defendant will turn his life around and make changes.
Brown fled after the crash, leaving behind an injured man in the front of the car and Pishue dying in the back. She succumbed to her injuries despite hospital treatment.
The judge said that only Brown can make amends. That means choosing not to live as a criminal.
“I mean, you are not a zombie,” Wilson said.
Scott North: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snorthnews.