Man who hid sister's death gets 10 years

GEORGETOWN — The man who was arrested last year after police found his sister's mummified body in the trunk of his Chevy Malibu expressed remorse Friday before he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

"I understand what I did was wrong," said Timothy Allen Brown in Scott Circuit Court. He added that although he might have been selfish, he did not act out of greed, as prosecutors suggested.

"I want the opportunity to tell my family that I'm sorry," Brown told Circuit Judge Paul F. Isaacs.

Brown, 30, said he would never be able to apologize to his deceased sister, Penny Brown, and he would have to look his son and family in the eye. He told the judge that those two things were his punishment.

Timothy Brown pleaded guilty in June to second-degree manslaughter, abuse or neglect of an adult, abuse of a corpse, tampering with physical evidence, endangering the welfare of a minor and eight counts of theft of more than $300.

Defense attorney Joe Fooks and Terry Gray, who identified himself as Timothy and Penny Brown's biological father, asked Isaacs to consider probation so Brown could get needed help for mental problems and substance abuse.

Gray said he'd already lost one child, and "I do not care to lose another." Gray said he would like his son to get the help he needs.

Dr. James Clark, who interviewed Timothy Brown for a life history and mental health evaluation, said Brown suffers from alcoholism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Clark is vice president of Croney and Clark Inc., a Lexington-based agency that specializes in mental health services.

He said Brown tried to commit suicide at 17 and has never received proper help. He said Brown was abused as a child and was exposed to domestic violence. He also said Brown was not able to cope like a typical adult.

However, Clark said, Brown's disorders are treatable, and Brown seems motivated to engage in treatment.

Clark said it would take years for Brown to learn to care for himself.

Clark said Brown, who was taking care of his sister and his son, should not have been caring for someone else.

The investigation into Penny Brown's whereabouts started when social workers went to Timothy Brown's home in Georgetown to take custody of his 8-year-old son. Brown would not let the social workers into his sister's room.

The next day, social workers returned to the apartment, and Brown said his sister was staying in Dry Ridge. Social workers contacted police, who were unable to find Penny Brown, 31.

After a missing-persons report was filed for Penny Brown, police were unable to find Timothy Brown.

His 1998 Chevy Malibu was eventually found in St. Louis. The car was towed back to Kentucky, and investigators found Penny Brown's decomposed body in the trunk. She was wrapped in blankets and in an industrial-grade plastic. Investigators said she might have been dead for two years.

Brown was arrested Oct. 28, 2008, at a St. Louis library.

Fooks said Brown had "no desire for anything bad to happen." But he was overwhelmed while working a minimum-wage job and caring for his sister and young son. Fooks said Brown was not a danger to the community.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Keith Eardley opposed probation. Prosecutors recommended 10 years for the second-degree manslaughter charge, which would run concurrently with the sentences for the other charge.

Eardley said Brown was selfish and greedy, as he continued to cash Penny Brown's disability checks for months after she died. Brown did not take his ill sister to the hospital because he was afraid that he would get into trouble, Eardley said.

Isaacs said it was strange that no one stepped up to help Timothy Brown before then, although there probably were people who knew that he was not capable of caring for his sister.

"There is a lot of tragedy surrounding this case," Isaacs said.

The judge said he considered probation, but that he thought Brown knew it was wrong to not take his sister to the hospital when she became ill. Brown's relatives, sitting in the front row, sighed when Isaacs sentenced him to 10 years. Brown also was ordered to pay nearly $6,000 in restitution.

Isaacs said he would provide information about Brown's mental health and substance abuse to the Department of Corrections so he can get the necessary help.

Fooks and Brown's relatives declined to comment after sentencing.