An accomplice in the robbery and slaying of a longtime Las Vegas businessman was sentenced Thursday to eight to 20 years for his role in the crime.
Christopher Brewer earlier pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, accessory to murder, robbery and other charges in connection with the robbery and killing of 83-year-old John Herda, founder of Herda’s Discount TV & Appliance in Las Vegas.
Brewer was accused of approaching another defendant, Bryan Crawley, 40, about robbing Herda because he knew Herda’s schedule and where he lived. Brewer was a friend of the Herda family.
Crawley, who authorities said was the triggerman, is set to go to trial in November.
District Judge Jackie Glass called Brewer a coward who stole from his friend, Herda.
“You were a friend of this family. You were a friend of this man. And you were greedy and you were desperate and you were weak,” she said. “You put things into motion that led to us being here today.”
Brewer, who wept throughout most of the hearing, expressed remorse for the killing and praise for Herda.
“Nothing can bring back a man of integrity and true grit,” he said through sobs.
Herda was found shot to death in August 2006 in his home in Spanish Oaks, a gated community. Police said Crawly fled to Mexico after the killing but was arrested several months later.
County prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo said Brewer had a gambling problem that led him to make some stupid choices. But he said he didn’t believe Brewer intended that Herda be killed.
“This to me was the ultimate betrayal,” said John Herda, Herda’s son. “Chris Brewer was accepted as a close friend and he returned this by stealing from my dad and betraying our trust.”
John Herda, who found his father’s lifeless body, said he is still haunted by the image of his dead father on the floor with a gunshot wound. Family members said John Herda initially thought Herda had committed suicide because the 83-year-old’s wife had died several months earlier after a battle with cancer.
Nick Herda described his father, a veteran, as a healthy man who still had 10 years ahead of him when he was killed.
“He didn’t deserve to die in such a terrible way,” he said. “It’s so hard to think about the good times I’ve had with my dad without thinking of the way he was brutally murdered.”
Robert Langford, Brewer’s attorney, said Brewer wanted to do the right thing in accepting the plea deal.
He argued that Brewer should get a lesser sentence so he could be with his son and be a productive member of society.