Updated: December 03, 2019 06:17 PM
The two brothers who admitted to a series of violent home invasion robberies, including one where a victim had a heart attack and died, will spend the next two to three decades in federal prison.
On Tuesday, a judge sentenced 34-year-old Lennie Brooks to more than 30 years (365 months) in prison for his role in three robberies targeting business owners in their private homes. Prosecutors described him as the "mastermind" behind the crimes and his brother Randy Brooks, 24, as the "muscle."
The younger Brooks brother, Randy, was sentenced to 20 years (240 months) in prison. A judge sentenced their getaway driver, 21-year-old Autumn Marie Nichols, to 10 years (120 months) in prison.
Investigators arrested the trio about two months after a home invasion robbery in Eden Prairie in October 2018. A 63 year-old victim, Oukham Oudavanh, had a heart attack during the robbery and later died.
Prosecutors charged the brothers with federal crimes of interfering with commerce because the stolen money came from victims' businesses, including $50,000 from the Shuang Hur Asian Markets owned by the Oudavanhs.
Oudavanh's adult son, William, made a brief statement to the court before the brothers were sentenced.
"We're still grieving and there's no amount of justice that will ever bring him back," William Oudavanh said. "My mom couldn't bring herself to be here. She's still in fear."
In a written statement to the court, the victim's wife said she moved out of their home in Eden Prairie after the robbery and has never returned.
The Brooks brothers also pleaded guilty to two other similar robberies in Ellendale and Waite Park, but investigators suspected them in several other home invasions that were never charged.
One woman who was in court for sentencing told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the same brothers robbed her in the middle of the night last year, taking $40,000 worth of jewelry.
"My greatest loss is my mother's ring," said the woman who asked to not be identified. "Justice has to be served. It's just that simple. I'll never be the same person."
In court, Lennie and Randy Brooks apologized for their crimes and denied they knew their victim was having a heart attack at the time of the robbery in Eden Prairie.
"When I learned he died of a heart attack, I couldn't sleep," Lennie Brooks said. "Everything I have done up to this point has been my own doing. I take full responsibility."
"I hope my sentence allows for closure for the families," Randy Brooks said. "And I hope they will someday be able to forgive me."
But the federal prosecutor, Jeff Paulsen, rejected the brothers' assertion that they did not know Oudavanh was having a heart attack.
"They knew he was going into cardiac arrest. They had to carry him upstairs," Paulsen said. "(Lennie Brooks) has been stealing from people all of his life. He says he's remorseful – the only thing he's sorry for is he got caught."
The brothers could have faced a total of up to 60 years in prison. They've also been ordered to pay $288,483.72 in restitution to their victims and serve three years of supervised release.
In a statement issued late Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald wrote:
"Lennie and Randy Brooks carefully planned and carried out multiple violent home invasion robberies, one resulting in the death of a victim. Although nothing can replace the lost sense of safety and security of one's home or the loss of a loved one, today's sentencings offer some measure of justice for the victims."
Special Agent in Charge William Terry Henerson, with the ATF, also issued a statement:
"After more than a year of investigation and court proceedings, the Brooks brothers' victims have justice. ATF has worked closely with the victims in this case to provide status updates, resources, and support to help recover from the traumatic experiences resulting from the brothers' violent crime spree. No one deserves what these people went through, and our hope is that peace can be found in the finality of this sentencing. We are grateful to our many law enforcement partners whose efforts led to the apprehension of those responsible for these crimes and ultimately for the success of this case."
Esperanza Cardenas, 30, who pleaded guilty to helping the same brothers commit another robbery in southern Minnesota last September was sentenced last month to four years (50 months) in prison and three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $238,483.72 in restitution to victims.
Updated: December 03, 2019 06:17 PM
Published: December 03, 2019 12:00 AM
Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company