An Omaha man shot through a motel door, killing the wrong person. Now a family is mourning their brother | Nebraska
OMAHA — One by one, the women in Andrew Brown’s life marched to a courtroom Wednesday, turning to the man who killed Brown.
His cousin. Her big sister. His twin.
One by one they said they had forgiven Lawrence O. Bolden. They had to, they said through their tears. Not only did their God require it; there is no way they can continue to “carry hate” in their hearts.
“I have to forgive you,” said twin Andrea Brown. “I want the court to know that my brother was loved; it was someone; he was my other half.
“You stole someone from me that I can never get back. I will never see them again.
Their forgiveness did not help them make sense of the shooting.
Bolden, 34, and Brown, 38, were friends, sometimes down on their luck, and stayed at Motel 6 at 10919 J St.
Bolden had argued with three men over who owned a puppy that was at the motel. One of the men threw a starter gun at Bolden, then the three left for another part of the motel.
It scared the already paranoid Bolden, who was addicted to methamphetamine, assistant public defender Kyle Melia told a judge on Wednesday.
Unaware of all this, Brown went to open the door to his motel room, perhaps to see what the fuss was about. Bolden pulled out a handgun – and fired through the door.
The bullet hit Brown, killing him. Bolden then ran to a gas station for help and soon after told police what had happened. He thought he was shooting in self-defense against the three men, but mistakenly fired into Brown’s bedroom. He admitted he had no reason to shoot Brown.
For this, Douglas County District Judge Russell Bowie sentenced Bolden to 40 to 50 years in prison for second-degree murder. Under state law, which halves most sentences, Bolden must serve 20 years in prison before being eligible for parole. Without parole, he will serve 25 years.
Prosecutor Amy Jacobsen, assistant attorney for Douglas County, said the case proves why criminals such as Bolden are not allowed to own guns. At one end of the spectrum, Jacobsen said, is the criminal who stores a gun in his home for protection. On the other side is Bolden, who had just been released from prison on January 11, 2021 for being an accomplice to a robbery. Just before this sentence, he had served a prison sentence for possession of methamphetamine.
It had nothing to do with guns, Jacobsen said.
“What the state can’t escape – it should never, ever have had a gun,” she said. “And he used that gun while on meth.”
Brown’s mother, Marie Brown-William, said a third factor made the case outrageous. At the end of a recent prison sentence for being an accomplice to theft, Lincoln prison officials had caught Bolden with contraband.
Prison staff said they found a phone charger and an “I owe you” note with lists of names and numbers under her mattress. They then said they found a “significant amount” of methamphetamine hidden in the folds of a bandana on a shelf in his locker.
The drugs, discovered in late December, could have resulted in a new felony charge – or a waste of time. A disciplinary hearing was set for January 12, 2021, but Bolden was released the day before. When he failed to appear at the hearing, the disciplinary action was dismissed.
Nine days later, Bolden killed Brown.
Melia, Bolden’s attorney, said Bolden suffered not only from addiction, but also from mental illness. For his part, Bolden swiveled in his defendant’s chair, looked into the courtroom gallery and apologized to Brown’s family and his own. Several family members know each other. Many were moved to tears.
“If I could trade places with him, I would,” Bolden said. “I feel like you’re family to me too. I’m sorry for taking him away from all of you. I understand that my actions have caused a lot of grief.
The grief was evident after the court ended. Older sister Shannon Brown scrolled through her phone for photos of her little brother. She talked about having had to organize part of a recent baby shower at the cemetery. The reason: Andrew was such a proud uncle – he loved to sing and dance with his nephews and nieces. He wouldn’t have wanted to miss the party.
Meanwhile, Brown’s mother arrested a reporter leaving the courthouse. “Make sure you get on with it, I forgive this young man and hope he gets the help he needs,” Brown-William said. “But my family – we’re a mess without Andrew.”
Brown-William said her son went through a drug battle but was working hard to stay clean. He had worked at the Hope of Glory Church and “would give you the boots if you asked him”.
Across the hall, twin sister Andrea cried, choking, “I just don’t get it.” A Douglas County Sheriff‘s Sergeant approached her and hugged her. Andrea let her face fall against the sergeant’s chest.
“He was my left arm; I was right,” she said. “I was his #1 protector. And now there’s just a void that I can’t describe.
“You’re all taking these guns for no reason and it’s not OK.”