One of three men accused of selling a handgun used in the Trolley Square massacre reached a plea deal in federal court Thursday.
Brenden Taylor Brown, 21, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball to unlawful transfer of a firearm to a juvenile. In exchange, an indictment of lying to an agent was dropped.
Brown was sentenced to 12 months probation and ordered to pay a $500 fine and $2,500 in court assessment fees.
Brown is accused of selling Sulejman Talovic the .38 Special handgun he used when he went on a shooting rampage inside the Trolley Square Mall on Feb. 12, killing five people and wounding four others. Talovic was just 17 when the gun was sold to him.
In court Thursday, both the defense and prosecution agreed that Brown had no idea what Talovic was planning. A solemn Brown told the court what happened was a "deep tragedy."
"I'd never want to be a part of it," he said.
Federal defense attorney Kristen Angelos called Brown a "minor participant" in the sale of the gun. The sale was actually arranged by another man, who has also been indicted, she said.
In June or July of 2006, Brown received a phone call from Mackenzie Hunter telling him to meet him in the parking lot of a local McDonalds to sell a gun, Angelos said. At the parking lot, Talovic got into Brown's car and gave him money for the gun. Angelos described Brown's one and only encounter with Talovic as a "hurried meeting."
"Talovic said he was in a hurry," she said.
Angelos said Brown should have at least asked Talovic his age but was relying on information from Hunter and the fact Talovic appeared to be 18. Talovic reportedly told Hunter he planned on using the gun for a robbery, she said.
"Had he known what Mr. Talovic intended he would have never given him the firearm," Angelos said.
Talovic was just three months away from turning 18, which would have made the sale legal.
"This type of sale occurs all the time," Angelos said. "If it had happened three months later it would have been legal."
Prosecutors called the plea deal a "fair and reasonable resolution" and hoped the case might deter others from selling guns to juveniles or at least raise their awareness of the serious nature of the offense.
Brown tried to avoid reporters as he left the courthouse Thursday and refused to answer questions.
Hunter and Matthew Hautala are the other two defendants accused of selling the handgun to Talovic. They were scheduled to go to trial Nov. 5.A fourth man, Westley Wayne Hill, is charged with selling Talovic the shotgun used in the Trolley tragedy. He has filed a motion to have his charge dismissed. His case is pending trial Nov. 26.
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