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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Nebraska

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 24, 2021

Men Sentenced to Life Plus 240 Months in Federal Prison for Murder of Lincoln Mother

Acting United States Attorney Jan Sharp announced that Tawhyne M. Patterson, a Vice Lord gang member from Chicago, Illinois, and Damon D. Williams of Omaha, Nebraska, were sentenced today for their respective roles in a home invasion that resulted in the death of Jessica Brandon on July 31, 2018.  Chief United States District Judge John M. Gerrard sentenced each to life imprisonment for commission of murder with a firearm during an attempted robbery.  For their participation in a firearms conspiracy and a second attempted robbery at the same Lincoln home the day before the murder, they were sentenced to 240 months consecutive to the life terms.  There is no parole in the federal system.

At their hearings, Chief Judge Gerrard stated, “The crime doesn’t get any worse than this one.  Home invasions are among the most egregious crimes that this Court sees.  This was a classic case of felony murder, and the punishment shall fit the crime.  We are seeing way too many of these home invasions in Nebraska and anyone else who commits a home invasion resulting in death with a gun can expect the same result.”  Judge Gerrard expressed his commitment that his Court would do what it takes to deter others from these crimes.

The evidence at trial established that Patterson, age 28, and Williams, age 29, were part of a crew that targeted a Lincoln marijuana dealer for robbery. They went to the home on July 30, 2018 and returned on July 31, 2018 intent on stealing drug money.

On July 31, 2018, Patterson forced open the door and was joined by two others claiming to be Lincoln Police Officers. The robbers zip tied and restrained three children, including a child there on a sleepover who had no family connection to the marijuana dealer. Jessica Brandon, mother of two of the children in the home at the time, was shot as she found herself between Patterson and a safe where the robbers expected to find cash and drugs. Brandon was brought to a hospital and was later pronounced dead.  The children who were tied up and held at gun point were all female children ranging in age from 9 years old to 16 years old at the time of the crime.  An elderly woman with a broken back was also zip tied and held at gunpoint.  The evidence showed that Patterson gunned down Brandon in the stairwell to her home while Williams and his brother, Dante Williams, who is scheduled for sentencing next week, went through the bedrooms in the home taking the women and children hostage.

Video was recovered from the crime scene. Williams and Patterson were identified through tips from the public. They fled to Texas and were later arrested there in an attempt to evade justice for their roles in this crime.

Acting United States Attorney Jan W. Sharp said, “The United States Attorney’s Office continues to view the prosecution of violent crimes, especially those involving firearms, as a top priority.   All gun crimes are disturbing, but home invasions are especially horrifying for the victims.  Today’s life plus 240 months sentence sends a clear message to those who commit violent crimes:  Use a gun and you are going to be looking at hard time.”

After today’s sentencing FBI Omaha Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel said, “Tawhyne Patterson and Damon Williams terrorized a family in an attempted robbery that left them empty handed, and a young mother dead.  Today’s sentence prevents them from committing another vicious crime.  FBI Omaha will always assist our law enforcement partners to pursue and arrest those who prey on members of our community.”

This case was investigated by the Lincoln Police Department, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, and the Lincoln Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lesley Woods and Dan Packard.

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Updated June 25, 2021