A Baltimore man was sentenced Thursday to serve life plus 20 years in prison for his role in the 2007 robbery and murder of a co-worker at an Aberdeen hotel, three days after his accomplice in the slaying received a similar sentence.
Michael A. Brown, 29, was sentenced in Harford County Circuit Court to life in prison for the first-degree murder of Robert D. Hemphill, 26, at the Keyser Motel in Aberdeen in August 2007. He also received 20 years for a charge of conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Under the terms of the sentence, he will not be eligible for parole until he has served more than half the term.
Brown’s accomplice, Mark E. Christian II, 24, also of Baltimore was sentenced Monday to life plus 30 years in prison for the murder. Brown and Christian were found guilty of their respective charges in separate jury trials earlier this year.
According to a release from the office of Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly, members of Hemphill’s family “were gratified for the closure” in the case.
Investigators were able to crack the case last year, more than three years after the murder, when they connected the pair to the supposed accidental shooting of Brown the same night as the robbery. According to the release, Harford County Sheriff’s Office detectives, working with Baltimore City and Baltimore County investigators, were able to match blood on Brown’s shoe to Hemphill.
According to a Sheriff’s Office release last year, Hemphill was known to keep his money in cash on his person. Investigators determined that Christian and Brown attempted to rob Hemphill at the motel in the early morning hours of Aug. 18, 2007, shooting him during the struggle.
Police found Hemphill hours later, at approximately 11:36 p.m., when deputies were called to the motel to check on his well-being. Hemphill was found lying on the floor of his ransacked motel room, shot in the back and leg.
Later investigation found that, following the robbery, Brown arrived at Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore County, suffering from a gunshot wound to the foot. Brown told Baltimore County investigators that he had been shot during a robbery in Baltimore City, but detectives from both agencies proved his story false. Christian then admitted to having accidentally shot Brown. His gun, along with Brown’s clothes and shows, were submitted as evidence in the incident.
According to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, in the fall of 2010 agency detectives were investigating Christian’s role in a crime committed earlier that spring when they connected Christian’s name as a suspect in the 2007 Hemphill murder. They were later able to recover Brown’s shoe, and match Hemphill’s blood to stains on the shoe.
From the Harford County State’s Attorney’s Office:
On May 14, 2012, Mark Edmund Christian II, 24, of Baltimore, Maryland was sentenced by the Judge Stephen M. Waldron of the Circuit Court to life imprisonment for the first degree murder of Robert Dante Hemphill, plus consecutive sentences of ten years for conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and twenty years for the use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence. His co-defendant, Michael Anthony Brown, 29, also of Baltimore, was sentenced on May 17, 2012 to life imprisonment for first degree murder plus twenty years consecutive for conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Members of the victim’s family were gratified for the closure after five years.
In the early morning of August 18, 2007, Mr. Hemphill was shot twice in his room at the Keyser Motel in the 1300 block of South Philadelphia Boulevard, Aberdeen, in a robbery attempt with no immediate suspects. Also that morning, Mr. Christian and Mr. Brown responded to Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore County for a gunshot wound to Mr. Brown’s foot. Both told the Baltimore County Police Department that they were the victim of a robbery, but later stated that Mr. Brown was shot by accident in their home in Baltimore. A Glock 9mm handgun was recovered from Mr. Christian’s vehicle.
Through multi-agency cooperation that involved the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, the Baltimore County Police Department, the Baltimore Police Department, the Maryland State Police, and the FBI, the cold case was re-opened in 2010 and the recovered Glock was forensically linked by the FBI to one of the shell casings at the scene of the murder. DNA testing was performed by the Maryland State Police on the shoe of the wounded foot of Mr. Brown and found to contain blood belonging to the victim, Robert Hemphill.
Both defendants were tried in separate two-week long jury trials in the spring. The cases were prosecuted by Lisa Hyle Marts and David W. Ryden of the Harford County State’s Attorney’s Office.
State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly complimented the outstanding teamwork and dedication of the Sheriff’s Office, Baltimore County Police Department, and detectives with the Baltimore City Police Department for their initial investigation which proved invaluable in prosecuting the cases.