ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — For the good part of 20 years, 43-year-old Floyd Brown committed violent crimes.
That was the message Assistant U.S. Attorney Talia Bucci sent at the Stanley J. Roszkowski U.S. Courthouse Monday before Judge Mathew F. Kennelly sentenced Brown to 55 years in prison for fatally shooting McHenry County Deputy Jacob Keltner three years ago.
Bucci told the judge that between the ages 18 and 38, Brown, of Springfield, committed multiple domestic violence offenses, child endangerment, burglaries, and several gun crimes, one that left another man dead.
For nearly all of his adult life, Bucci noted, Brown was either incarcerated or under some sort of court supervision. He was sent to the penitentiary twice, once for 13 years and once for eight years, and was released early both times.
Brown was on parole on March 7, 2019, the day he shot Keltner in the parking lot of the Extended Stay America on Rockford’s far east side. His actions on that day, the government said, proves that he should be removed from society for good.
“The most serious sentence this court can impose is life imprisonment,” Bucci said. “That is the sentencing we are asking your honor to impose.”
While Kennelly acknowledged Brown’s criminal past, he handed down the lesser sentence, largely to respect the verdict of the jury, which convicted him in April of second-degree murder instead of first-degree. Had the panel agreed on the more serious offense, it would have automatically sent Brown to prison for life.
The shooting unfolded when Keltner and other members of a U.S. marshals fugitive task force attempted to serve Brown with an arrest warrant at the Extended Stay America.
Instead of surrendering, Brown fired multiple rounds from an AK-47-style rifle at his hotel room door as three marshals were in the hallway. He then jumped from a third-floor window and shot Keltner in the back.
Brown then fled Rockford and was taken into custody near downstate Lincoln when he crashed his car into a drainage ditch.
In addition to four guns seized in the case, law enforcement found more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and other evidence that led them to believe Brown was planning to kill police officers.
Brown’s cellphone contained selfie videos in which he vowed to make police “famous.” A laptop found in his hotel room showed that he watched YouTube videos about police ambushes and looked online to buy rifle magazines and more bullets.
Brown told the judge Monday that he fired the rifle inside his hotel room because he got scared when he heard one of the marshals chamber a round outside the door.
“My intention wasn’t to hurt any one of you,” Brown said, looking at the gallery. “I just reacted.”
Brown also apologized to Keltner’s family but did not directly admit to shooting the deputy.
“I am truly sorry for your loss—his mom, dad, brothers, his sons,” he said. “It was tragic.”
Two shots from Brown’s rifle were fired in the parking lot. One slug entered Keltner’s upper back and exited near his left ear. The other bullet came to rest in the wall of a nearby business.
At trial, Brown’s lawyers told the jury that Brown had no knowledge that Keltner had been shot, and that the fatal bullet could have been fired accidentally when he jumped from the window. They also made his troubled upbringing a central part of the defense.
Brown testified that he was abused by a stepfather and an uncle, who hit him in the head with a baseball bat. His sister spoke of the abuse Monday, telling the judge Brown was part of the “glue” that held her family together.
Brown also said he had been targeted by police.
Kennelly was sympathetic to Brown’s childhood and his negative interactions with law enforcement. But he said the marshals did everything by the book on March 7, 2019, and that Brown showed a blatant disregard for human life.
“He didn’t have any regard for the human beings on the other side of the door or in the parking lot,” Kennelly said.
Jacob Keltner was a 12-year veteran of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office.