Role In Killing Nets Jail

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June 29, 2005 1:07 am
Brian Delaney Millhorn sold his father's shotgun to a convicted felon who used it to kill a man.

He spent time with the killer on the day before the crime.

And he was in the area of the slaying when it occurred, to pick up the killer.

That was all stacked against Millhorn, a 36-year-old Stafford County man who was charged last year with first-degree murder.

But as Stafford County detectives and prosecutors listened to Millhorn, they came to believe he was caught up in a set of coincidental events and had never intended for the killing to occur.

Those details were presented yesterday in Stafford Circuit Court during Millhorn's sentencing hearing.

He got five months in jail for giving a convicted felon--37-year-old Charles Edward Reed III--the gun used in the Aug. 11 murder of Robert Douglas Lee.

He was also sentenced for being an accessory before the fact and for conspiracy to commit a felony.

According to evidence presented yesterday by prosecutor Eric Olsen and defense attorney Jonathan David, Millhorn took the shotgun from his father's home on Walnut Drive in Stafford and sold it to Reed.

Reed was convicted of sawing down the gun and using it to murder Lee, a 30-year-old Chesterfield man, on Walnut Drive before taking the dead man's drugs and money. Reed received a life prison sentence.

Lee's girlfriend, who was there when Lee was killed, later told detectives that she saw Millhorn's truck pass by around the time her boyfriend was shot in the head. Millhorn had been with Reed earlier in the day, and Reed asked him to pick him up that night.

Faced with that information, Millhorn was initially charged with murder. But after detectives talked more with Millhorn, that charge was dropped.

Millhorn admitted he gave Reed the shotgun, but he said he didn't know it would be used to kill someone. He said he frequently drove Reed, who didn't have a license. He said he drove away when he saw the gun go off.

"I don't believe he knew there was going to be a shooting that night," Detective Richard Leonard of the Stafford Sheriff's Office said from the witness stand yesterday.

Olsen agreed, but said it was an amazing coincidence. He said Millhorn had a role, even if he didn't mean to.

David, the defense attorney, commended the sheriff's and commonwealth's attorney offices for reconsidering the initial charge.

Millhorn apologized for his role in the slaying but restated his innocence.

"I'm grateful I can lay my head down at night knowing I wasn't responsible," he said before Circuit Judge William Ledbetter Jr. sentenced him.

Ledbetter said the crime illustrates the lethal mix of drugs and guns. He said Millhorn should have known not to give a convicted felon a gun.

Ledbetter gave Millhorn five years total, but suspended all but the five months and gave him supervised probation.

Millhorn will get credit for the time he's already served in jail, which covers the sentence. His family hugged in the lobby after it was over.

"I'm gonna be hot on his trail," said his father, Ralph Millhorn. "He won't have time to do anything else."

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