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Drug dealing returns freed man to prison

A man freed last year after serving 12 years in prison for a murder a judge decided he didn't commit received a scolding from a another judge Wednesday as she sentenced him for drug crimes committed after his release.

"You threw away your chance at freedom and liberty," U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga told Timothy Brown, 28, before sentencing him to nearly six years for selling crack cocaine to undercover agents.

Brown, who is mildly retarded, was released from prison in June 2003 after a state judge decided the confession used to convict him of killing a Broward County sheriff's deputy when he was 15 was false and coerced and that a jury would not likely convict him on retrial.

Brown's 19-year-old nephew, Antonio Bowers, received more than three years in prison for driving Brown to two of the drug deals near their Hollywood home beginning last September.

"The 12 years I did don't make up for this crime," Brown told Altonaga. "What I ask this court to do is to help me get my life back on track."

No one was going along _ not even Brown's angry mother, Othalean Brown. She stood by him during the prolonged legal challenge to his murder conviction but couldn't stand to look at him in court.

She blamed Brown for the crimes committed by her grandson, Bowers, whom she raised from a baby. "Tim, he had two choices: the right road and the wrong road, and he chose the wrong road," Othalean Brown said.

Altonaga said Brown wasted the chance of a lifetime when his conviction was erased in the shooting death of Deputy Patrick Behan.

She called him a "willful participant in the world of crack cocaine" and chided him for "frankly such outright stupidity, brazenness and total disregard of the law."

The judge said Brown's nephew, a high school student with a part-time job, "didn't look for trouble, but trouble came knocking at his door."