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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Killer won't be eligible for parole for 50 years

Photo gallery: Lorenzo sentencing

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Robina Browne, mother of slain Sheriff's Deputy Daniel Browne-Sanchez, told John K. Lorenzo Jr., "I don't think I can ever forgive you." Lorenzo, sitting with his attorney, yesterday received a series of back-to-back prison sentences.

BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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A judge yesterday imposed a series of back-to-back prison sentences on John K. Lorenzo Jr., ensuring that the convicted killer of an off-duty sheriff's deputy won't be considered for parole for at least 50 years.

Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto made the ruling before a courtroom filled with relatives, friends and law enforcement co-workers of Daniel Browne-Sanchez, 27, who was killed while trying to prevent the armed robbery of a nightclub Feb. 10, 2007.

"I'm not going to risk another life," Sakamoto told Lorenzo.

Sakamoto referred to the fact that Lorenzo killed Browne-Sanchez while he was free on bail awaiting sentencing for earlier drug convictions. In 2006, over the objections of prosecutors, Sakamoto delayed sentencing Lorenzo in the drug case so that he could attend a drug treatment program.

The victim's mother, Robina Browne, told Lorenzo in court, "I don't think I can ever forgive you." But she said she hoped the defendant "can find a way to give back to the people you have hurt."

She tearfully told Lorenzo, 33, that "one year and 30 days" after her son was killed, "he is the last thing I think about before I go to sleep at night."

Losing a child is something "no parent should have to experience. It is the worst thing that can happen," Browne said.

"I hold you responsible and you alone," she said to Lorenzo.

Deputy Sheriff Michael Oakland, speaking for friends and co-workers of Browne-Sanchez, said: "The judge made the right decision. It won't bring Dan back but hearing that sentence does help ease (the hurt) a little bit."

Lorenzo's lawyer, Walter Rodby, said during the murder trial that Lorenzo, under pressure to repay a drug debt, attempted the gunpoint robbery of the Osake Sushi Bar and Lounge after he attended a drug treatment session three blocks from the nightclub.

"You had the opportunity to turn your life around. That failed," Sakamoto said yesterday.

He noted that Lorenzo entered the Osake Lounge on Kapi'olani Boulevard wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a semiautomatic handgun equipped with a silencer.

Browne-Sanchez was working at the lounge as a bartender's assistant. He was shot to death after he grabbed Lorenzo. After the fatally wounded Browne-Sanchez fell on Lorenzo, other Osake Lounge employees disarmed the shooter and held him for police.


Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell asked Sakamoto to sentence Lorenzo to consecutive prison terms for the various offenses he committed, including second-degree murder, kidnapping and firearms crimes.

Lorenzo has engaged in "repeated criminal activity" and has "squandered all previous attempts at rehabilitation," Bell told the judge.

Consecutive terms for Lorenzo would serve the purposes of "retribution, deterrence and incapacitation" of a dangerous felon, Bell said.

"He is perfectly capable of deadly violence. He's a danger to this community," the prosecutor argued.

Defense lawyer Rodby pointed out in sentencing papers filed in court that Browne-Sanchez was legally intoxicated at the time Lorenzo shot him, but Bell said that fact "is completely irrelevant to Mr. Lorenzo's choices of evil" and to Lorenzo's "criminal responsibility."

Rodby limited his arguments yesterday to an assertion that consecutive prison terms are an unconstitutional form of sentencing.

Lorenzo declined to make a statement in court, although last year he said in an interview that he wanted to publicly apologize in person to Browne-Sanchez's family.

"I admit my mistake, and despite all that was said through the trial, I know, inside myself, there is no excuse for my actions," he said in that interview.

"I feel badly and I am sorry," he said.

"The way I was living my life prior to this was selfish and wrong. I'm just so sorry for the family's loss."


After the hearing yesterday, Bell said he is confident that Sakamoto's sentence of Lorenzo will be upheld on appeal.

Lorenzo's mother declined comment.

Sakamoto sentenced Lorenzo after a Circuit Court jury late last year could not agree with a city prosecutor's request that the defendant be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

That "penalty hearing" in December was the first test of a new sentencing procedure established by the Legislature after the Supreme Court struck down an "enhanced sentencing" law that gave judges the authority to impose longer-than-usual prison terms in certain criminal cases.

Prosecutor Bell said the Supreme Court has ruled that judges still have the ability to impose consecutive prison terms.

Reach Jim Dooley at jdooley@honoluluadvertiser.com.