Dillon Brown’s 11-year-old son had a question for the man convicted of murdering his father:
“Why would you do something like this? You killed one of my favourite people in the whole world and my best friend. I don’t know what made you think this was a good idea. You killed my dad, my Grandpa’s son and my mother’s boyfriend. We didn’t deserve to live this way and it’s all because of you.”
The victim impact statement by the boy, who is named after his father, was read aloud in court Thursday at Richard Alexander’s sentencing hearing for the first-degree murder of Brown on March 11, 2016.
Late Wednesday night, a jury reached a unanimous guilty verdict, finding Alexander was the one who shot an unsuspecting Brown in the back of the head at the Devil’s Army clubhouse in Campbell River. With eight sheriffs standing by, Alexander, 68, was placed in handcuffs and led from the courtroom to begin serving the mandatory sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
Nicole Herman, Brown’s former partner and mother of his two children, cried with relief as the verdict was read. On the other side of the courtroom, members of Alexander’s family appeared surprised. Two women put their heads in their hands and cried.
At Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Alexander chose not to address the court. Sitting in the prisoner’s box, he listened to the statements of seven people who loved and miss the 30-year-old mixed martial arts fighter who was a father, stepfather, son, grandson and friend.
Nicole Hunt, who was pregnant when Brown was murdered, described him as a really good man, with a great heart, who cared deeply for the people in his life. Hunt, who had known Brown since they were children, said she had always loved and admired his strength and his sense of humour.
“Our daughter will never know how great and loving a person he was. For years, it’s been her wish to have a dad and she will never know what it feels or looks like. She has missed out on a lot of support and understanding.”
Brown’s aunt, Marie Brown, recalled his natural athleticism and charisma and said his premature and violent death had left a void with all the members of his family.
Brown’s 15-year-old stepdaughter Janelle Webber, like her brother, said she has always wondered the same thing: “Why?”
“Some days it felt so quiet without him. Somedays I was mad that he was gone. I didn’t have my biological dad growing up and Dillon was always there for me. He always took care of me and made sure I felt loved. … He was a good dad. He would take us swimming and sing and dance with me, even have tea parties with me,” she wrote in her victim impact statement.
“He didn’t deserve to die the way he did. No one deserves that.”
The teen said she hurts when she sees her mother sad, depressed and living in fear.
“I just hope Ricky can find it in his heart to understand that what he did was wrong and that he hurt so many other people.”
In her statement, Herman said March 11, 2016 was the most devastating day of her life, “the day you, Richard Ernest Alexander, decided to rob me of the love of my life, my best friend, my soulmate, the father of my children, my everything. … This has destroyed me on the deepest level and I don’t know if I’ll ever recover.
“Dillon used to say he would do anything to protect me and the kids and if anything happened to him, he knew he could rest easy, knowing his babies were taken care of because I was the best mom. At the time, I didn’t realize just how much those words would mean to me in the future.”
Herman said their daughter, now six, will never meet her father. “He was taken from me in such a disgusting way. I’ve been forced to live with a pain so severe and crippling for the past seven years.”
Many people move on and are able to forgive, said Herman. “But I’ll never forgive you. The hate that I have in my heart will die with me,” she said looking directly at Alexander.
Outside court, Crown prosecutor Kimberly Henders Miller thanked the jury for their hard work, the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit for their dedication and the officers and civilians who were involved in the investigation and prosecution.
“This verdict would not have been possible without the cooperation of the witnesses in this case. For many, their participation was challenging and, for some, came at great personal cost,” she said.
“Criminal trials don’t result in closure but I hope that the family of Dillon Brown continues to move forward and will now focus on his life, rather than his death.”
Through tears, Herman also thanked the investigators, the Crown and the jury for coming together and giving her closure.
The 11-member jury, which has been sitting since Feb. 14, began deliberations around 8 p.m. on Monday. On Wednesday afternoon, they returned to court to tell the judge they were deadlocked.
“After exhaustive discussion and numerous votes, we as a jury have failed to reach a unanimous verdict. … We now ask your advice on how to proceed,” said the note handed to Justice Geoff Gaul.
He urged them to give it one more try. At 9 p.m. Wednesday night, the jury asked to sit for another hour. At 10:15 p.m., they announced they had reached a unanimous verdict.
Identity was the key issue. The verdict means the Crown proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Alexander was the person who killed Brown and that the murder was planned and deliberate. The defence had accused another full-patch member of the Devil’s Army, now a protected Crown witness, of the murder.
Although the public gallery was almost empty during the first week of the trial, interest grew. Alexander’s supporters and family members — including his son and his sister — attended the court proceedings in greater numbers. An overflow courtroom was opened to allow people to watch the proceedings.
The trial has been held under heavy security. People entering the courtroom were required to pass through a metal detector and have their belongings searched. Half of the third floor was blocked off when protected witnesses testified. Undercover officers mixed with the public.
The defence did not call any witnesses.
The Crown theory was that Alexander killed Brown, a 30-year-old father and construction worker, to put an end to a lawsuit that would make Hells Angels and their puppet club, the Devil’s Army, look bad. Brown had been in a fight with three to five bikers at a Campbell River nightclub, the Voodoo Lounge, in November 2015. Brown held his own against the bikers but was injured and ended up in hospital.
He sued the nightclub to pay for dental bills and lost wages because bouncers didn’t stop the fight or come to his assistance. He asked for, and received, a video of the fight that was captured on the nightclub’s surveillance system. Brown showed the video to several people and tried to recruit witnesses for his lawsuit. Some of his friends wanted nothing to do with the lawsuit when they found it involved the Hells Angels.
Phone records revealed that Alexander phoned Brown on Jan. 30, 2016, presumably to negotiate the lawsuit. The Crown believed Alexander was worried criminal charges against the bikers would arise out of the civil suit. The evidence presented at the trial revealed there were more phone calls and text messages between the two men.
The Crown believed that Alexander began stringing Brown along, promising him a payout of $10,000 for his injuries if he dropped the lawsuit. He asked Brown to meet him at the clubhouse on the afternoon of March 11.
Witness X, then a full-patch member of the Devil’s Army, testified that before Brown arrived, Alexander asked him to help get someone to a car. X said he thought that meant someone was coming to the clubhouse for drugs. X testified that when Brown arrived, Alexander told him to close the clubhouse gate.
X went back inside the clubhouse and turned on the TV. Then he went to the beer cooler to grab something to drink. But on his way, he caught sight of something out of the corner of his eye, behind a couch. He turned his head and realized it was a person. He thought the man had been punched out, but when he reached towards him he smelled gunpowder. X realized Brown had been killed.
Alexander has admitted that he drove Brown’s car with Brown’s body in the trunk to Sayward and abandoned the car near the Cable Bridge on Sayward Road. The jury watched videos of Alexander walking away from the bridge towards Sayward Junction, then walking south on the Island Highway on the day of the murder.
The Crown believed that when Brown entered the clubhouse Alexander was waiting with a loaded firearm. Brown’s body was discovered the next day.
Alexander was arrested in 2018. A mistrial was declared at his first trial in April 2021 during X’s testimony. The reasons for the mistrial are protected by a publication ban.