Lake County Circuit Court Judge Lane Simpson sentenced Martin Carl Brown, 56, to life in prison, with a minimum sentencing of 25 years on one count of murder with no possibility of parole, probation or work release.
Brown also received 3 months for a possession of methamphetamine charge, with minimum of one-year post–prison supervision.
After 25 years, Brown may petition for parole, the judge said.
At the time of his August 2012 arraignment, Brown was also charged with two counts of abuse of a corpse in the second degree, two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and two counts of tampering with physical evidence.
Lake County District Attorney Ulys Stapleton said that these charges were dropped so as to aid in drawing a guilty plea to murder.
“Having him plea guilty was a real bonus for Lakeview because there’s no trial, no appeal, no motion to suppress,” Stapleton said, noting the change of plea means less overall costs to the taxpayers.
Judge Simpson expressed disappointment to the absence of domestic violence in Brown’s sentencing given his criminal history.
“I think it’s a slap in the face to victims everywhere,” he said.
Stapleton later said the domestic violence factor had no impact on the sentencing, and that it only is factored into statistical purposes.
He also said there were legal issues with the case that were voided by Brown’s guilty plea.
Brown changed his plea to guilty on both charges during a hearing held Friday, March 15. He previously entered a plea of not guilty when arraigned.
He spoke minimally as Judge Simpson confirmed his plea and that he agreed with and understood all that he was charged.
As per the requirements of his change of plea, Brown was required to provide an explanation of the circumstances of the events surrounding Watts’ death.
Brown claimed to have been drinking heavily, blacked out and claimed he did not know what happened while in that state.
By entering a guilty plea, Judge Simpson said Brown waived his right to a trial as well as an opportunity to appeal.
The murder charge called for a maximum penalty of life in prison and fine of $500,000, he said.
Brown confirmed he was not under any physical disability or ailment that would prevent him from making a decision at the hearing and also entered a waiver of a preliminary hearing and grand jury by entering the guilty plea.