The Washington C.H. man who shot and killed his ex-girlfriend, Lilliana M. Null, March 9 when she brought their infant child to visit him was sentenced Monday in Fayette County Common Pleas Court to 28 years to life in prison.
Prior to being sentenced by Judge Steven Beathard, Joseph A. Brown, 22, plead guilty to aggravated murder, attempted felonious assault and a gun specification.
Fayette County Prosecutor Jess Weade said that any plea agreement was contingent upon Brown pleading guilty to aggravated murder, which he did after two psychological evaluations found him to be “sane and competent” to stand trial. Brown originally pleaded “not guilty” and “not guilty by reason of insanity” to the charges against him.
“He was going to have to plead to aggravated murder, which carried either 20 to life, 25 to life, 30 to life or life without parole,” Weade said following the hearing.
It will be 28 years before Brown can go in front of a parole board.
It was an emotionally-charged hearing Monday morning in court as three of Null’s family members spoke. Null’s mother, grandmother and niece talked about what a loving and caring person Null was, and how much she loved her son.
Null’s mother, Connie Darlington, said that “what’s worst of all” is that Null’s son “will never know his mother’s love, but mark my words he will know from his grandmother how much he was loved by her.”
Darlington then spoke to Brown. “A quarter of me, as a Christian, wants to tell you may God save your soul. But three quarters of me wants to tell you I hope you burn in hell,” she said. “You will never know your son, you are no longer a father. Because believe me, you are dead to him also.”
Null was 20-years-old when she was killed.
Just after 6 p.m. March 9, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office received a call indicating that a man had shot a female at the rear of the apartment buildings on Joanne Drive in Washington C.H. The initial call reported that the assailant was still in possession of the firearm and remained in the area.
When deputies arrived they encountered a man exiting the front of an apartment in building 16 and learned that he was the alleged shooter. Brown was detained by deputies, Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth said.
As additional deputies and detectives from the sheriff’s office arrived, the victim, identified as Null, was found in the rear yard behind building 15, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
“Fayette County EMS responded at the scene but were unable to find signs of life,” said Stanforth.
Null was pronounced dead at the scene by the Fayette County Coroner’s Office. Null’s boyfriend, who was a witness to the shooting, and the infant child were unharmed in the incident.
Prior to shooting Null, Brown attempted to shoot at Null’s boyfriend, who was in a vehicle at the time, but the gun jammed, according to Weade. Brown and Null had recently separated when Null agreed to bring their infant child to Brown’s residence for visitation.
According to authorities, Brown planned the homicide prior to the visit. He alluded to his plan in a Facebook post and bought a gun the day before the murder.
After being inside the apartment, Null ran out the front of the apartment into the back yard and that is when he shot her multiple times.