Bel Air man gets 2 life terms in gun shop killings

October 22, 1992|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

Kenneth Robert Brodt, the 20-year-old Bel Air man convicted of brutally murdering two elderly sisters in their Havre de Grace gun shop last year, was sentenced yesterday to two consecutive life terms in prison, a punishment the victims' family declared "greater" than death.

Brodt, who pleaded guilty to the crimes, admitted his involvement but yesterday denied killing Bessie Urban Mitchell, 73, and her sister, Emily Urban Hamby, 75. He said a 25-year-old friend conceived the robbery and did the killings.

"I don't want anyone to think that I am capable of taking another person's life," he said. "I never wanted anyone to get killed."

Joseph I. Cassilly, state's attorney for Harford County, dismissed Brodt's contention. He said evidence gathered during the investigation concluded that Brodt alone planned and committed the crimes. Though the friend was questioned, no evidence was ever found to indicate anyone else's involvement, he said.

The case was tried in Towson because of the crime's widespread publicity in Harford County.

The two women were shot to death on Oct. 18, 1991, during a robbery that netted several guns and about $150. Mrs. Mitchell was shot 10 times in the head. Her sister was shot once.

Brodt was arrested in January, after his father made an anonymous phone call to state police to see if a gun he had been shown came from the robbery. A state trooper recognized his voice. Police searched the home and found several of the stolen guns and bullets fired from the gun used in the crime in the back yard and in Brodt's room.

Yesterday, a surviving sister of the two victims lamented that she now has no place to go "but to the graveyard and cry." A nephew, Duane Urban, recounted his Aunt Emily's life, her early struggle with poverty, her years of hard work, sacrifice and her violent death. He said she didn't want to help run the store, but her sense of family drove her to help after her sister's husband died.

Judge Dana M. Levitz said "the crime in this case is horrible beyond words," and that the deal Brodt received was "a gift beyond value, the greatest gift he could get." In exchange for Brodt's guilty plea, Mr. Cassilly agreed not to seek the death penalty or life without parole. As their part of the Oct. 5 deal, Brodt's lawyers agreed not to force Mr. Cassilly to disclose the names of five informants who helped state police.

Judge Levitz also said people would be mistaken if they thought Brodt would "be released in the near future, or in 11 or 12 years. That's a fairy tale."

He predicted Brodt would spend the rest of his life in prison.

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