UPDATE

Man behind ‘heinous’ murders takes plea deal for lesser sentence

Prosecutor: Kiernan Brown pleads guilty to two counts of second-degree murder

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MONDAY, July 27 — A plea deal from the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office could be Kiernan Brown’s saving grace after he was accused of killing two local women earlier this year.

Brown, 27, of Delta Township, pleaded guilty late last week to two counts of second-degree murder after he was charged in the killings of 26-year-old Kaylee Ann Brock, of Holt, and 32-year-old Julie Ann Mooney, of Williamston, according to an Ingham County spokesman.

Brown initially opted to reject the plea deal last week and risked the possibility of a jury levying two counts of first-degree murder — charges that would guarantee a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. He apparently changed his mind and took the deal on Friday afternoon.

He’ll be sentenced later this year, officials said. And while second-degree murder charges can still net a life sentence, the deal at least ensures Brown will eventually appear before a parole board — perhaps in a few decades. The deal doesn’t include any specific minimum sentence.

County Prosecutor Carol Siemon has faced criticism in recent months for implementing office policies that routinely offer redemptive plea deals to alleged murderers. Her take: Mostly everyone, even those accused of heinous crimes, deserves a second chance to be rehabilitated.

Criticism of Siemon’s philosophy toward redemption and rehabilitation was again put on display when her office offered a second-degree murder plea bargain in Brown’s case — an incident that Siemon and other law enforcement officials have recognized as a clear first-degree murder.

Family members pleaded with prosecutors to have the plea offer pulled from the table. Siemon refused. Brown initially rejected the offer, but he circled back to accept it last week. A sentencing date still hasn’t been scheduled. The deal ensures he won’t face life in prison without parole.

Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said Brown’s “killing spree” was among the “most gruesome homicides” he’d ever investigated. Siemon said it was among the more “hideous and heinous” homicides to pass by her office. Family members contended any mercy wouldn’t be deserved.

Still, the case didn’t warrant a life sentence without the hope of parole, Siemon had contended. The second-degree murder charge still carries the possibility of a life sentence, but it would at least afford Brown the opportunity to appear before a parole board — perhaps in a few decades.

“I think it’s a humane thing to do. I think it’s the right thing to do. And when I ran in 2016, I promised that I would always do what I think is the right thing,” Siemon told City Pulse this month. “It’s not always popular, but I can’t care about that. It’s not that I don’t care about the victims, their families or what people think, but I can’t let it influence me to do the wrong thing.”

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