NEWARK, NJ — Nearly four years after 19-year-old Livingston resident Brendan Tevlin, a 2013 graduate of Seton Hall Prep, was gunned down on Walker Road in West Orange by a man who recently pled guilty to six charges, including charges of first-degree terrorism and murder, Ali Muhammad Brown was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole by Superior Court Judge Ronald Wigler in Newark on Tuesday.
Tevlin’s family and friends filled the courtroom to hear the court’s judgment after listening to Brown’s plea for them to see him “as a human being” and his eventual admittance that he did not regret his actions. One by one, Tevlin’s parents, sister, grandfather, aunts, uncles and close family friends described what it was like to have their loved one robbed of life at the hands of this “monster,” “animal” and “disgrace for a human being."
“I was naïve to believe that there is absolutely nothing that could cause enough pain and desolation to break a person’s heart — that was before June 26, 2014, at 4:30 a.m., when three detectives stood at our door to tell us that my older brother had been murdered,” said Michaela Tevlin, Brendan’s sister. “Even my happiest moments have not been and never will be complete because Brendan will not be there. He should have been the first person to hug me when I was accepted into his college, the University of Richmond; Brendan was the one who should have been sitting alongside me when I skydived for the first time because it was all he ever wanted to do; it should have been him who took me out to celebrate my 21st birthday. When I graduate next May, when I get my first job, when I’m walking down the aisle at my wedding and when I have my first child, these are all milestones that I will never be able to fully enjoy knowing that Brendan will not get to experience any of it alongside me.”
Allison and Michael Tevlin, Brendan’s parents, spoke to the courtroom about their son’s smile and its ability to light up a room and put anyone at ease. Their son lived by his own motto, “good vibes and easy living,” and was “handsome, athletic, smart, kind, faithful, generous and a sincere, good soul,” who brought people together, and was inclusive and caring toward everyone, Allison added.
“I have been a judge for over eight years and this clearly is one of the most if not the most heinous, horrific, brutal crimes that I have ever presided over, and I harken to say that, in all my years prior to getting on the bench, I’ve never been involved in a case with this kind of brutality…your callous, ruthless, barbaric behavior is truly more akin to the actions of a monster rather than a human being,” said Wigler, adding that he hopes Brown thinks about how he affected Tevlin’s family and community every day for the rest of his life while in confinement, because he could not see any other logical sentence than life imprisonment without parole.
On March 6, jury selection was underway when Brown pled guilty to the following charges, according to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino: first-degree terrorism, first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder, first-degree carjacking, first-degree armed robbery, second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon (handgun without a permit) and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
Brown was convicted on Tuesday for concurrent sentences of life imprisonment for the charges of terrorism, murder and felony murder, as well as a 30-year sentence for carjacking, to run consecutively to the 36-year prison term that he began serving in 2016 for a 2014 armed robbery in West Orange.
While explaining his decision in this case, Wigler stated that Brown is a single, 33-year-old man from Seattle with three children of his own — ages 12, 8 and 4. He completed ninth grade in Seattle, received his GED at age 20 and was employed in the construction industry for a period of time.
His criminal history includes a juvenile conviction filed against him and at least 19 arrests as an adult, including three prior indictable convictions to date, according to Wigler. Brown was sentenced in 2005 to 84 days in custody and three years supervised release on a fraud charge; in 2012, he was sentenced to 364 days in jail and 48 months of probation on a rape charge; was twice arrested in Washington for the gross misdemeanor of communication with a minor for immoral purposes; and in 2016 was sentenced to 36 years in New Jersey state prison for first-degree robbery, second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and other charges related to this incident.
He now has 25 charges against him, and is the first person to ever be convicted of terrorism in New Jersey — a mandatory life sentence under state law.
“The risk that you’ll commit another offense, I most certainly find based on your extensive prior criminal record, you’ve demonstrated over and over and over and over again that you will continue to commit crimes more and more serious, which has culminated in the murder of Brendan Tevlin,” said Wigler.
Awaiting Brown in Washington are three aggravated murder charges for the suspected murders of Dwone Anderson-Young, 23, Ahmed Said, 27, and Leroy Henderson, 30, whom Brown has verbally admitted to shooting in April and June of 2014. In addition, he will face an upcoming sentence for an armed robbery in Point Pleasant Beach that occurred in the two weeks following Tevlin’s murder.
“Brendan was ripped from the world that he spent his entire 19 years of life trying to make a better place, and despite the depression, the trauma and anxiety I have when I can’t remember his voice, I do believe that some good has come of this heinous crime: it has proven above all else that love and hope will forever trump evil,” said Michaela. “It has left every person that Brendan had ever encountered and even people who have never even met him or my family wanting to be a better person.
“Everything that Brendan ever was will forever overpower even the smallest detail of his death. My family and I will spend the rest of our lives trying to recover from what happened in June of 2014, but we will never be whole again — my parents will never get to see their oldest son again; my two younger brothers and I will never get our best friend, role model and, above all else, older brother back.”