Kenyatta Mahkia Brown was convicted Monday of second-degree murder in the 2015 shooting death of Joslynn Sovenski, 18, at a party in a Carmichael apartment.
The emotionally charged verdict sent Brown’s godmother Dina Deese shrieking from the courtroom. “Oh my God!” she shouted again and again before sprinting for the seclusion of a restroom, where her screams still could be heard from behind closed doors.
Jurors worked through the day Monday before rendering their verdict before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Curtis Fiorini late in the afternoon. Brown and brother Keyon both faced charges connected to the deadly shooting – Kenyatta accused of second-degree murder; Keyon as an accessory, alleged to have lied to authorities to help his brother.
Both Browns also are accused of possessing the semi-automatic Tec-22 handgun that discharged, fatally striking Sovenski in the chest.
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Just after 4 p.m., the court’s clerk read the verdict: guilty. Brown, 24, faces 40 years to life in state prison. Sentencing before Fiorini is set for Oct. 6.
The outburst from Brown’s godmother brought a flood of deputies to the fourth floor of Sacramento County Courthouse. Many of the same deputies later escorted the panel from the courthouse to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.
Outside the courthouse, the jurors walked past Tina and Justin Taylor, Sovenski’s aunt and uncle. Both had received word of the verdict at their places of employment – Justin in Olivehurst in Yuba County; Tina, in Lincoln.
Tina Taylor, overcome with emotion, said the jury’s verdict was a measure of justice for their fallen niece. “We did get our justice.” she said. “It’s so painful knowing they took her from us, (but) the jury did their job.”
Inside the courthouse, Brown’s aunt looked on in disbelief. “This was very unexpected because this was an accidental shooting,” Angela Thomas said. “I just want to know what the jurors were listening to. How do you convict him?”
A visibly nervous Kenyatta Brown looked on as jurors filled their seats before the reading of the verdict.
Sacramento County prosecutors alleged the brothers brought the gun to the party knowing its danger and say Kenyatta Brown fired the shot that killed Sovenski in one of the apartment’s bedrooms.
Kenyatta Brown’s attorney, Russell Miller, countered that the fatal shot was self-inflicted. Keyon Brown’s attorney Melissa van der Vivjer argued this past week that Keyon did not know who fired the weapon that killed the young woman and tried to cover for his brother because he did not know what happened inside the bedroom.
“We have to respect the jury’s decision, but that doesn’t mean we agree with it and it doesn’t mean it’s right,” Miller said while standing with Brown’s family outside the courthouse. Miller said he plans to appeal the decision.
A second jury continued to deliberate Keyon Brown’s fate on Monday.
Sovenski, of El Dorado Hills, was a recent graduate of Ponderosa High School at the time of the shooting. She did not know the Browns, and the ownership of the gun that killed her remains in dispute.