A 23-year-old man was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison in connection with a high-speed chase last year that left a 26-year-old college student dead near West Compton.
Carl David Brown pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Kathryn Jacobsen-Majer. Brown was originally charged with murder in the death of Brandon Simpson, as well as four counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle with allegations of witness intimidation and use of a firearm, according to a probation report.
Brown accepted a plea deal in the case and the initial charges were dropped, according to prosecutors.
During the sentencing, Superior Court Judge Pat Connolly remarked that "this is truly a sad case," as Simpson's family, some crying, sat in several rows in a Compton courthouse.
Simpson, who grew up in Carson, was taking classes at a community college and working construction before his death, his family said. He wanted to open a plumbing business someday.
Connolly was stern with Brown.
"You've ruined a lot of lives here. Do you understand?" he asked Brown, who wore blue jail scrubs. "Yes, your honor," Brown replied quietly.
The judge said he hoped that Brown will "do something right" and "be a better person," when he gets out of prison.
"This was a selfish act," Connolly said. "This was a cowardly act."
Late on July 28, 2017, Brown, whose license was suspended, was driving a Dodge heading north on Main Street with three passengers, according to a probation report. The Dodge stopped at South Vermont Avenue and Artesia Boulevard in Gardena next to a woman's vehicle.
The other occupants of the Dodge rolled down the windows and pointed guns at the woman's vehicle, and a chase ensued. Brown's car, with headlights off, followed the woman's vehicle, "driving at a high rate of speed" and running red lights as gunshots were fired, according to the report.
During the chase, Brown's car ran a red light and crashed into Simpson's truck. Simpson died at the scene, and Brown and his passengers left.
After the woman drove home and saw an Instagram post of the crash, she returned and told authorities the car that chased her was Brown's. The woman had dated one of Brown's passengers, with whom she was embroiled in an ongoing feud because she gave birth to a child fathered by a rival gang member, according to the report.
Brown was arrested two days later on an unrelated charge.
Investigators initially thought the incident was related to street racing. The charges against the other defendants were dropped "because it became impossible to determine what role the co-defendants played in the crime," according to the district attorney's office.
Simpson's mother, Deadra Johnson, 55, said Brown "got a slap on the wrist." Johnson said she had been attending court hearings for seven months in the case and felt cheated.
She said it was if Simpson "lost his life for nothing."
Johnson said she will never see her youngest son have children.
"He was getting ready to start living his life," she said. "And it all got taken away."