Criminal Justice

Teen Son Gets Life in Murder of His Dad, a Md. Lawyer, Mom & 2 Brothers

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The teenage son of a Maryland lawyer has been sentenced to life for murdering his father, mother and two younger brothers last year.

Nicholas Browning, now 16, was 15 at the time of the crime and, a psychiatrist testified in July, in a “trancelike state” as he shot his family members in the head with his father’s 9 mm pistol as they were sleeping on Feb. 2, 2008. Although the defense blamed alleged alcohol-fueled abuse by his father, Towson attorney John Browning, as part of the motivation for the admitted murders, Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas Bollinger Sr. said he didn’t consider this claim during sentencing, the Baltimore Sun reports.

However, prosecutors and the judge did accede to the pleas of Nicholas Browning’s extended family members that he be given a prison sentence that allows him hope of eventually being released from prison, rather than life without any possibility of parole, reports the Maryland Daily Record. He pleaded guilty in October to four counts of first-degree murder, in exchange for an agreement that he would receive a maximum sentence of two consecutive life sentences and two concurrent life sentences—the exact sentence that Bollinger gave him on Friday.

Attorney Keith Truffer, who was a partner of John Browning’s at Royston Mueller McLean & Reid in Towson, told Bollinger of a 20-year colleague with a “tremendous sense of generosity,” who was routinely charming, affable and smiling, the Sun reports.

According to authorities, Nicholas Browning planned his family’s murder in advance of the crime, and tried to stage the crime scene to make the family’s home appear to have been burglarized.

The teen tearfully apologized to his extended family at the sentencing hearing, and John Browning’s mother, Margaret Browning, asked the judge to recommend Nicholas Browning for a treatment program.

“I know in my heart, from my heart, that my son would want help for his son,” she told the judge. “That’s all I’m asking, that he get help.”

Bollinger remanded Nicholas Browning to the Department of Correction but asked that he be evaluated at the maximum-security Patuxent Institution in Jessup. However, the facility—which provides psychological treatment and educational programs that aren’t available in state prison—doesn’t have to accept him, according to the Sun.

Browning’s lawyers, Joshua Treem of Schulman, Treem, Kaminkow & Gilden in Baltimore and co-counsel William Brennan Jr., of Brennan Sullivan & McKenna in Greenbelt, plan to seek a sentence modification so that all the life terms run concurrently. If they prevail, he probably will be eligible for parole in about 11 years rather than, as at present, in about 23 years, the Daily Record reports.

Additional coverage: “Teen Son to be Tried as Adult in Md. Lawyer’s Murder”

Associated Press: “Md. teen who killed family gets 4 life sentences”

People: “Maryland Teen Who Murdered His Family Sentenced to Life”

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