‘This court doesn’t know me’: Fishersville man sentenced in 2020 murder

Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 6:26 PM EST
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - A Fishersville man has been sentenced in a 2020 murder.

Ja’Quez Brown was convicted of first-degree murder in June 2022 in the shooting death of Bruce Williams. Another man connected with the shooting, Cameron Bahle, was sentenced in August to serve 18 years in prison for second-degree murder, robbery and use of a firearm in a felony.

Brown was sentenced to serve 41 years in prison. His sentence is 60 years with 25 years suspended for first-degree murder, along with three years for use of a firearm in a murder and use of a firearm in an attempted robbery.

Brown’s attorney began the sentencing by asking the judge to set aside the first-degree murder charge in favor of second-degree murder, saying the court has established that Brown and Bahle were both at the scene, but he said Bahle is the one who pulled the trigger.

During previous testimony, Bahle and Brown explained they’d met up with Williams for a drug deal at Spring Hill Village Apartments in Staunton.

He said two key witnesses, Bahle and his brother, were inconsistent and have lied in the past.

Brown took the stand for the first time, saying he hadn’t testified in the past because he wanted to protect Bahle, who is his cousin. He said he was so shaken after the murder, and he just went along with what Bahle did, including fleeing to Georgia.

After Brown took the stand, his mother did the same.

His mother said it was her who wanted the charge lowered, saying she speaks with Brown every day.

“My son, he’s not a killer,” she said.

Brown’s father and grandfather also took the stand, speaking to Williams’ family, apologizing for what happened and offered words of comfort.

His attorney asked that Brown receive the same sentence as Bahle and show leniency, especially considering Brown’s previous criminal record, which was minimal.

Staunton’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Gaines said Brown’s inconsistency shows a lack of accountability. The facts established during the trial said Brown is the one who pulled the trigger, Gaines said.

Brown gave a statement before his sentencing, saying he didn’t testify to prove innocence, but to give Williams’ family “peace of mind.” He called out to a number of spectators by name, speaking on his relationship with Bahle and Williams.

Judge Anne Reed spoke briefly before the sentencing, saying the fact Brown waited so long to testify is not an issue, but the issue lies in the content of what was said. She said he showed a lack of empathy and failed to fully value Williams’ life.

Reed said the court did not find he’s taken responsibility.

Brown is currently being held at Middle River Regional Jail, and Bahle is at the Nottoway Correctional Center, according to the VA DOC.