As the third man charged in her 16-year-old son’s killing was sent to prison Thursday, Karen Brill-Kelley walked out of a Las Vegas courtroom with tears in her eyes, knowing her struggle would continue.
“It’s the love I have for him and he had for me,” she said. “Aric and I were tight. It’s hard to swallow … Maybe my pain keeps me going. I don’t know.”
Prosecutors agreed to a sentence of two to five years behind bars for 31-year-old Devonte Wash on a charge of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the 2009 slaying that went unsolved for more than seven years before anyone was charged.
Wash was the third man to receive a prison sentence in Aric Brill’s death.
Wash has been jailed since his arrest in 2016 and would likely be released from custody soon, as Chief Deputy District Attorney Binu Palal called Wash the “least culpable” of four men charged in the slaying.
“I do hope that she do find peace in the near future,” Wash said of Aric’s mother. “I apologize to the courts, my family and hers.”
This week, Davon Phillips, 31, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter with use of a deadly weapon for his role in the killing. Prosecutors are expected to ask for an 18-year prison sentence at a hearing next month.
In March, Arthur Moore, whom prosecutors identified as the gunman, was ordered to serve up to 40 years in prison on murder and robbery charges. Another man, Nadin Hiko, pleaded guilty in 2019 to second-degree murder and was ordered to serve 10 to 25 years behind bars.
Aric Brill was attacked and shot in the back of the head outside a house party in east Las Vegas.
Witnesses told police at the time that a male approached Brill and another person, pulled out two handguns and shot them. The other person survived.
Police have said the shooting was motivated by a robbery and was gang-related.
Brill’s killers got away with $20 and a broken cellphone. At the time he was shot, he carried a list of books he wanted to read and things he hoped to accomplish.
For about seven years, while her son’s case remained unsolved, Brill-Kelley would call police at least twice a year, checking for developments. Authorities have said her persistence kept the once-cold case on their radar.
“It’s a testament to Karen Brill for her relentless pursuit of justice,” Palal said after Thursday’s hearing, adding that now-retired homicide Detective Darin Cook helped solve the case. “It’s been hard fought. We’re looking forward to having gotten some justice for Aric.”
Brill-Kelley said she planned to attend Phillips’ sentencing and parole hearings for each of those tied to her son’s murder.
“My fight is not over,” she said. “I think it’s just gotten harder. I am going to stay with this 100 percent. I’m going to go in there and kick their ass every time I can. They haven’t seen the last of me … I told my kids if anybody ever hurt them, I would handle it. I would always handle everything.”