Knightdale woman pleads guilty to ex-husband's 2006 shooting death
Posted February 14, 2013 4:38 p.m. EST
Updated February 14, 2013 8:50 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — A Knightdale woman charged with shooting and killing her ex-husband at a Raleigh park in front of their two children nearly seven years ago was sentenced Thursday to 16 to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
Camellia Boyd Norton Brown was arrested March 24, 2006, after she shot Earl Thierry Brown, 42, at Pullen Park off of Ashe Avenue.
Wake County Deputy District Attorney Howard Cummings said during a hearing Thursday that the two were meeting to exchange custody of their 6-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter.
The children were in Earl Brown's car eating pizza, Cummings said, and Camellia Brown and her former husband were outside the car when she shot him once with a .22-caliber revolver.
Earl Brown was taken to a local hospital, where he died a short time later.
"I didn't mean for him to die that day," Camellia Brown told Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens. "I'm sorry that it came to that, but I believed he was, in fact, destroying my children."
Up until that night, she told Stephens, she had neither seen her husband nor the children for more than a year and felt like that she wasn't going to get to see them again.
Brown said that she meant to shoot her husband in the spleen, because it could have been removed, and purposely made sure to avoid his kidney because he had undergone a transplant.
"He was a fine son and a fine brother," Cummings told reporters after the plea. "It's always been the position of the family that she planned this. Otherwise, why would you take a gun to visit with your ex-husband who had custody of your children?"
Stephens gave Brown credit for time served, meaning she will have to serve at least nine more years in prison before she can be released.
Brown's first-degree murder trial was delayed for years after another judge ruled that she was incompetent to stand trial and ordered that she undergo treatment at a state mental hospital.
Earl Brown's mother, Suzanne Brown, said Thursday that she agreed to the plea deal only to keep the children from having to testify – a move Cummings said would have been necessary for the state to prove its case.
"If they were to see her now, I don't think it would be very good for them," she said. "It's still fresh in their minds what she did."
"It's for that reason and only that reason that the family agreed to this second-degree murder plea," Cummings said.
The first time Brown would be up for a possibility of parole would be when the children, now 13 and 15, are adults.
"Hopefully, at that time, they will have matured and be able to make their own decisions about whether or not they have any desire to see their mother," Cummings said.