COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A gay Chicago man who had his younger brother kill his wife, in part, to collect on a $205,000 National Guard life insurance policy, was sentenced to 99 years in prison this week.
His brother, who got cold feet during his first attempt to kill Kenyatae Collier-Brewer and instead slept with her, was given a life sentence for eventually following through on what the trial judge called a "cold and calculated" murder.
Collier-Brewer, a 22-year-old mother, was shot twice in the head while in the trunk of her car by her brother-in-law, Dujuan Powe, who had kidnapped her while wearing a "Scream" mask.
"This crime cries out for a sentence that makes sure he never sees the street again," Judge Stanley Sacks said Monday after sentencing Powe to life plus 21 more years for the kidnapping.
Darron Brewer, Collier-Brewer's husband, was the "so-called brains" of the operation, Sacks said while sentencing him. Brewer confessed to the crime on video before curling up on the ground and sobbing.
Jurors at the brothers' June trial saw that video.
Cook County prosecutors argued at the trial that Brewer, who had come out of the closet as gay before the murder, hatched the plot with his younger brother to kill Brewer's wife to collect on a $205,000 spousal life insurance policy provided through his employer, the National Guard.
Family members of Collier-Brewer testified Monday about the devastating effect her murder has had on their family, and the haunting images of the young mother in the trunk, pleading for her life before Powe shot her.
She "knew she was going to die. I am sure she was calling out to me for help," an aunt of Collier-Brewer said on behalf of her mother, Theresa Jones, unable to speak for herself. "One day, I will have to explain to [Kenyatae's] babies what happened to their mother."
Brewer, now 26, and Powe, whose nickname is "Scooter," devised the murder plot in early October 2009, but they failed in their first attempt, prosecutors said.
Powe was supposed to surprise Collier-Brewer in her Logan Square home in the 3700 block of West Belden Avenue and "choke her to death."
"He saw her coming out of the bathroom; he couldn't do it," Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Jeff Allen said. "Instead of killing her, [he] had sex with her, consensual sex."
After Collier-Brewer allegedly "cried rape" to her husband, the two brothers plotted a fake carjacking that would end with her slaying, he said.
On Oct. 25, 2009, Collier-Brewer picked up her husband and their two young children on the South Side after getting off work, aiming to drive the family to their Logan Square home, Allen said. Her husband took the wheel while she dozed in the front seat.
Brewer took a detour, going more than a mile out of his way to get gas at a station at 59th Street and Racine Avenue.
There Powe, wearing a mask from the movie "Scream," ambushed the family and forced Collier-Brewer at gunpoint into the car trunk, Allen said.
The incident, captured by a surveillance system, ultimately proved to be Brewer's undoing, he said.
About 24 hours later, police discovered Collier-Brewer's body after her husband reported her missing and provided the location in the 2200 block of North Tripp Avenue.
She suffered two gunshots to the head, "messengers of death," as prosecutors referred to them.
In a videotaped confession played for jurors, Darron Brewer admitted to his role in the murder plot and then curled up in a ball on the floor and sobbed.
Attorneys for both Brewer and Powe maintained throughout the trial that their clients were innocent of the charges, arguing in turn that the other brother was the killer.
Brewer's attorneys said he was openly gay and no longer in love with his wife, but he did not want the woman dead.
When asked by the judge Monday if they had anything to say, both Brewer and Powe opted not to speak.