If convicted, man charged with killing McHenry County deputy could be sentenced to death
The 39-year-old man charged with fatally shooting McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Keltner was wheeled into federal court Monday and told he could face the death penalty.
Floyd E. Brown, of Springfield, faces dozens of felony charges, including first-degree murder, in Thursday's shooting at the Extended Stay America hotel on Bell School Road in Rockford, where the 12½-year sheriff's office veteran was shot while working with federal agents. A 25-year-old woman also was wounded.
Brown, who was later arrested on Interstate 55 near Lincoln after a chase in which he is accused of firing at police with a "long gun," arrived in court wearing a light blue hospital gown and a white vest on his chest. His right arm was bandaged.
His wheelchair was pointed toward Judge Ian Johnston and away from the 40-plus law enforcement officers who packed the gallery at the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois in Rockford.
"Do you understand the nature of the charges against you?" Johnston asked Brown.
"Yeah," he replied.
"This is a capital case. The possible penalty is death," Johnston said during the 11-minute court hearing in which Brown was advised of his right to remain silent.
Brown is being held by U.S. Marshals without bond and is next due in court March 20 in Rockford. The case is in federal court because Keltner was working as a deputized member of a federal task force when he was killed.
That task force sought to arrest Brown on Thursday morning on burglary warrants from McLean and Champaign counties, a failure to appear warrant from Sangamon County and a parole violation issued by the Illinois Department of Corrections, authorities have said.
According to the criminal complaint, Brown yelled, "Don't do it!" as authorities showed up at his third-floor hotel door and his 25-year-old girlfriend, who was in the room, was trying to get out.
She was wounded as Brown opened fire, authorities said. Task force members opened the door with a key, but the door was latched from the inside. Police did not return fire.
According to authorities, Brown fled through a window and encountered Keltner, who was positioned outside the hotel in case Brown tried to escape. Brown shot Keltner in the head, got into his Mercury Grand Marquis, and led police on a chase that ended when an Illinois State Police trooper rammed Brown's car and sent it careening into a field in downstate Lincoln in Logan County, according to authorities.
Brown held police at bay in a six-hour standoff before surrendering. Brown was injured during the arrest.
Brown was on parole after serving a half of a 13-year prison term for felony residential burglaries in McLean and Macon counties in 2011, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.
He also served prison time for two Sangamon County crimes: a 2005 felony case of unlawful restraint and violation of an order of protection and a 2001 case of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.
His sister, Christine Brown, attended Monday's brief court hearing and cried during the proceedings. She said she had not talked to her brother in a few months and found out about the charges through media reports Thursday.
"I've been trying to stay strong for everyone back home," Christine Brown said. She noted that if she could talk to him, she would say, "I love you and I'm gonna be here through all of this and you're not alone."