Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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October 21, 2011

Convicted killer to stay segregated

Joseph Brown was sentenced to 60 years in prison for cellmate’s death

Peru — A man facing life in prison was sentenced to 60 additional years behind bars for killing his cellmate at Miami Correctional Facility.

Joseph Brown, 56, pleaded guilty Thursday in Miami Circuit Court to charges of murder and criminal confinement in the June 19 strangling death of Charles Miller in the cell the two men shared at the prison north of Kokomo.

Miller was serving a 30-year sentence out of Howard County for attempted murder in connection with a July 2010 shooting incident in Center. He was due to be released in 2018.

Judge Robert A. Spahr accepted the pleas and sentenced Brown to 60 years for murder and 15 years for confinement with the two sentences to run concurrent. Spahr also ordered the sentence to run consecutively with a life sentence Brown is already serving.

Even though Brown is currently serving his time in a segregated unit at Westville Correctional Facility pending the outcome of this case, Miami County Prosecutor Bruce Embrey wants him to remain there for his entire sentence to prevent him from killing any other inmates.

“They should know they need to pay close attention to him,” said Embrey. “If they don’t, he’ll kill again, I have no doubt.”

Spahr agreed and recommended Brown be held in segregation during his sentence.

Doug Garrison, chief communications officers with IDOC, said Thursday he spoke to the superintendent of Westville who said Brown “will remain in segregation for a long, long time.”

Brown is already serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the 2001 murder of his girlfriend, Ginger Gasaway, in Vanderburgh County.

In Miller’s death, Embrey contemplated the death penalty for Brown, but due to the cost and time involved, he declined because it would take 20 years and cost the county millions of dollars, Embrey said in a prior interview.

Court documents indicate that on June 19, Brown and Miller were talking in their cell when Brown tore three or four strips from a bed sheet and told Miller to get in the bunk and cooperate or he would kill him. Miller tried to offer Brown money so he wouldn’t hurt him, according to court records.

Brown said Miller didn’t resist when he was tied up. Brown first tied Miller’s feet, then his hands behind his back, followed by a strip of sheet he stuffed in Miller’s mouth, according to the court records. Brown then used the string from Miller’s laundry bag to strangle him.

• Mike Fletcher, Tribune crime reporter, may be reached at 765-454-8565 or via e-mail at mike.fletcher@kokomotribune.com

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