Crime

Paso Robles man sentenced to 15 years in his toddler’s death

Herbert Brown, left, stands with his lawyer Jeff Radding as he is sentenced by Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy to 15 years to life for the second-degree murder of his 22-month-old daughter.
Herbert Brown, left, stands with his lawyer Jeff Radding as he is sentenced by Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy to 15 years to life for the second-degree murder of his 22-month-old daughter. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

A Paso Robles man acknowledged his “failure” as a father Tuesday morning in San Luis Obispo Superior Court before he was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for the 2013 death of his 22-month-old daughter.

Herbert David Brown III, 32, was sentenced Tuesday following his no-contest plea to second-degree murder last month.

The sentence is the minimum allowed under state law. Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy granted Brown, who has been in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail since his arrest, approximately 2 1/2 years of time-served credit, but under the terms of the sentence, Brown will not be eligible for additional credits for good behavior.

Brown is also required to pay about $20,000 in restitution to the California Victims Compensation Program.

He initially faced three felony charges, including murder, in the death of Lilly Sommer-Brown.

On the morning of Feb. 18, 2013, Herbert Brown called 911 to report that his daughter was not breathing.

Emergency responders found the girl with bruises covering her body and a severe skull fracture, which a detective later described at a preliminary hearing as the “equivalent to falling from a two-story building.”

The girl was eventually transferred to Stanford University Medical Center, where she was later declared brain-dead and taken off life support.

Brown initially blamed his daughter’s injuries on the family’s border collie before saying he had dropped her in the shower and shook her in an attempt to get her to respond.

During interviews with investigators, Brown reportedly said he could do more good out of prison, sharing his mistakes with other parents.

Before being led from the courtroom Tuesday, Brown apologized to his family and the child’s mother.

“The first thing, if I could apologize to (the mother) and to my family for my failure,” Brown said. “I’m going to live with this every day for the rest of my life.”

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