Hammet Brown was convicted of first-degree murder on Monday in the shooting deaths of two people and wounding of two others during a June 2018 party in Bloomington.
Brown, 29, was charged with killing Steven Alexander Jr., 18, and Taneshiea Brown, 20, during the party at an Orchard Road apartment complex. According to police, Hammett Brown, who is not related to the victim who shares his surname, was involved in a dispute with Alexander over drug territory.
Brown also was found guilty of attempted murder for wounding Kenleia Sims and Tyree Jones and aggravated discharged of a firearm. He faces life in prison when he is sentenced June 3.
Judge Casey Costigan spent 30 minutes reading his decision that followed a six-day bench trial.
Costigan dismissed Brown’s claim of self-defense. Why, the judge asked, did Brown remain at the party with people whom he had accused of trying to previously harm him?
The judge also found the testimony of shooting victim Kenleia Sims and eyewitness Nate Caldwell to be credible. Both said Brown was the sole gunman responsible for the shooting.
Costigan said “no doubt a beef or dispute existed” between Brown and Alexander. Brown’s comment to a friend that his run-in with Alexander left him “thirsty,” showed the defendant’s mindset toward violence, said the judge.
After the hearing, family and supporters of the victims applauded in the hallway.
During the trial, Brown took the witness stand to explain his self-defense claim. He described being threatened by Alexander, Jones and others whom he said were members of The 200s street gang. In one incident about two weeks before the Orchard Road incident, the gang members fired shots at Brown, according to his testimony.
At one point during his testimony, Brown left the witness stand and re-enacted how he pulled the .40 caliber weapon from his pocket and slowly raised it as he fired toward the victims. One of the bullets struck Alexander in the heart, according to autopsy reports.
Witnesses for the state contend Brown came to the party armed with a handgun and pulled it from his pocket after he encountered Alexander and Jones.