Dearborn County Law
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - A judge threw the proverbial book - or perhaps in this case the keyboard - at a blogger convicted of threatening a Dearborn County judge and others.
Dan Brewington, 37, was given a five year prison sentence by Special Judge Brian Hill of Rush County Circuit Court at the end of a two-and-a-half hour hearing Monday in Dearborn Superior Court II.
Brewington was convicted October 6 by a six member jury earlier this month of two counts of Intimidation and single counts of Intimidation of a Judge, Perjury, and Attempt to Commit Obstruction of Justice.
“He accepts no responsibility for his actions,” Dearborn and Ohio County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard told the judge prior to the sentence being announced.
Four victims in the case testified at the sentencing.
Dearborn Circuit Court Judge James Humphrey presided over Brewington’s 2007 divorce case. Unhappy with how the judge ruled in the case, Brewington took to the Internet to express his frustrations.
But, prosecutors argued, Brewington took his postings beyond being critical of the court system. They became personal against anybody who became involved with his case.
“This was sick revenge dragging my wife and kids into the matter,” Humphrey said during his testimony. “I don’t know of many cases where a subject has more clearly expressed his intent to do harm.”
Humphrey warned Judge Hill and Brewington’s public defender, Bryan Barrett, that they would likely become the defendant’s newest targets.
Dr. Edward Connor, a custody evaluator used in the divorce proceedings, was the original focus of Brewington’s writings. Brewington said Connor had withheld portions of the evaluation report he was entitled to.
“You have spent an enormous amount of time blaming everyone for your predicament but yourself,” Connor said.
Brewington had called Connor a child molester and prostitute in his “Internet rampage,” contacted the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky where Conner is involved as a board member, and sending mass e-mails to Connor’s colleagues and legal professional around the area.
Connor also referenced Brewington’s family – looking on from the courtroom gallery – for supporting his “harmful views.”
Connor’s wife, Dr. Sara Jones-Connor, reaffirmed what her husband shared with the judge.
“For over four years we have dealt with his attacks on a daily basis,” Jones-Conner said.
The prosecutors also presented evidence that Brewington’s words have the potential to boil over into actions.
Brewington’s cellmate at the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center for two-and-a-half months, Joseph McCaleb, had sent a letter to jail officials on September 25 after being concerned with what he heard from Brewington.
“He talked about following (Judge Humphrey) home, shooting him, and dumping him in the river,” McCaleb said of Brewington’s alleged “detailed and thought out” plan.
McCaleb testified that at the time the letter was written he took Brewington’s words seriously, but has since changed his opinion on whether Brewington meant what he was said.
Hill said later in the sentencing hearing that he could not take McCaleb’s testimony into consideration when determining a sentence.
Brewington then had his turn to convince the Judge Hill of allowing a lighter punishment.
“If I felt that my blogs were not protected by the United States Constitution I would not have participated,” he said. “Nobody asked me to stop.”
Brewington began to present evidence that Prosecutor Negangard may have lied in the Grand Jury hearing and the jury trial. Judge Hill interrupted to tell Brewington he could continue to present the evidence, but it could not be considered in the sentencing decision.
The blogger then made an emotional appeal. Breaking down to nearly tears, he showed a picture of himself playing with his two daughters, currently ages seven and five. He said he just wanted to see them again.
Barrett said Brewington had no prior criminal history aside from a 1996 driving under the influence conviction in Kenton County, Kentucky.
Negangard did not recommend a specific sentence to Judge Hill, but did provide evidence illustrating Brewington’s unwillingness to admit wrongdoing or take responsibility. Several blog postings since Brewington’s October 6 conviction were handed to the judge to consider.
Each of the victims and the prosecutor voiced concerns whether Brewington will ever cease his negative blogging.
“I don’t know what would stop him,” Sara Jones-Connor said. “Being in jail, being convicted, being away from his children for two years has not stopped him.”
“Nothing that has been done has stopped Dan Brewington in his attacks on Dr. Conner and Judge Humphrey,” Negangard echoed. “He needs a sentence that demonstrated the severity of his actions.”
Brewington is planning to appeal his conviction. He has 30 days to file.
He had filed a motion to dismiss the charges just before his jury trial began based on ineffective assistance of counsel and alleged prosecutorial misconduct during the Grand Jury proceedings which led to the indictment against him.
Judge Hill credited Brewington for 462 days served towards his five year sentence. He has been in jail since his arrest on March 7.