Wednesday, Dec. 10, 1997 | 10:53 a.m.
After tearful testimony from the victim's family, Charles Jennings was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without possibility of parole for the shooting death of postal worker James Brown.
Brown's family members shared hugs and tears in the hall after the sentence was announced, relieved that closure had been reached.
Brown, 59, was shot twice in the head and killed last December in the employee parking lot of the Sunset Road branch post office by Jennings, who had recently lost his job with the U.S. Postal Service.
According to court testimony, Jennings, 42, an admitted drug addict, was coming down from a four-day crack cocaine binge when the shooting occurred.
The jury took less than an hour to choose between life in prison with or without parole.
Jessie Brown took the stand and recalled hearing of her husband's death from postal employees sent to her home.
"The look on her face told me more than I wanted to know," she said.
When asked if she had any last comments for the jury, Brown spoke of her husband as friendly, helpful and compassionate.
"He treated me with the utmost respect," she said before breaking into sobs. "It's difficult to talk of him in the past tense."
James Brown's son, Michael, a former athlete at Bishop Gorman High School and the University of Pennsylvania, was visibly distressed as he answered questions from the prosecution. Brown said he would miss his father's role as an involved grandfather.
"That part is really tough because I work constantly and I relied on his help," he said.
Members of the jury and virtually all in attendance shed tears as Lynette Jones, Brown's eldest daughter, expressed her grief through a poem she wrote that morning.
"December 19, 1996, was a day; not the first, but the last," the poem began, concluding, "... we'll try to stay strong."
Jennings began to cry as he spoke in mumbled tones to the members of the jury.
"Mr. Brown, he's the winner here," Jennings said. "I'm so sorry for the Browns...I wish I would have killed myself."
Jennings said he thinks of the Brown family daily.
"I just keep praying for them every day," he said.