DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The man who was convicted of shooting and killing a Virginia State Police trooper in Dinwiddie County was sentenced in court Thursday morning.
Russell Brown was sentenced to two life terms plus 23 years, without the possibility of parole.
“We know that justice has been served and Russell Brown will just fade away to nothingness,” said the victim’s widow Elizabeth Walker.
The jury had already recommended life in prison for Russell Brown, but it was up to the judge to present the actual sentence.
Master Trooper Junius A. Walker, a 40-year veteran of the Virginia State Police, died from multiple gunshot wounds after the incident in Dinwiddie County, just south of Dewitt.
Prosecutors said in 2013 Brown was smoking marijuana with a rifle when his car broke down on I-85 in Dinwiddie County, moments before trooper Walker arrived on scene to see if Brown was OK.
Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Nelson Fisher said trooper Walker couldn’t even roll down his window to ask if everything was alright before Brown began firing into his car. Walker was able to drive his car into the woods off the shoulder of I-85 where his car caught fire.
Brown eventually caught up to Walker, shooting him several times from the passenger side of Walker’s car. Using a .308 caliber semi-automatic rifle, Brown also fired at Thomas Hales, a truck driver who stopped when he noticed trooper Walker’s car in the woods, as well as another trooper who responded to the scene before taking off his clothes and running into the woods.
It remains unclear as to why Brown was pulled off onto the side of the road or why he opened fire, police said.
Brown’s attorney insists she will appeal the case on the grounds that her client was mentally ill when he shot Trooper Walker. The defense put three doctors on the stand during trial. All insisted Brown suffered from mental health issues at the time of the shooting.
“So this court considered those facts. The jury considered those facts and on appeal additional courts will consider the facts as well,” says defense attorney Jacqueline Reiner.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Baskervill is confident. “Virginia law respects a jury’s decision. I’ll respect it here. I’m going to do everything I can to fight to uphold that verdict,” she said.
Trooper Walker left behind a wife two daughters and three grandchildren.