A convicted sex offender accused of killing two men in Seattle’s Leschi neighborhood on June 1 has been charged in the high-profile slaying of a New Jersey college student about three weeks later.
On Monday, Essex County, N.J., prosecutors identified Ali Muhammad Brown as one of three men suspected of killing 19-year-old Brendan Tevlin on June 25 in West Orange, N.J.
Law-enforcement officials in Seattle and New Jersey say the gun used to kill Tevlin was also used to kill Dwone Anderson-Young, 23, and Ahmed Said, 27, in Leschi. Police said the 9-mm handgun was recovered when Brown, who is a transient, was arrested in a makeshift tent in West Orange last month.
Tevlin had reportedly just returned home from his first year of college at the University of Richmond in Virginia when he was found shot to death inside an SUV in the parking lot of an apartment building in West Orange.
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Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said Brown, Jeremy Villagran, 19, and Eric Williams, 18, had pulled up next to Tevlin at a stoplight. Brown and Villagran got out and one of them briefly spoke with Tevlin before Brown, who was standing at the passenger side, fired 10 shots — eight of which struck Tevlin, according to the website nj.com.
Brown then climbed into Tevlin’s car, moving the slain man’s body to the passenger seat, and drove to Villagran’s apartment, where some of his belongings were stolen, The Associated Press reported.
Brown has also been accused of a June 29 robbery and carjacking in the coastal town of Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.
Brown has been charged in New Jersey with murder, felony murder, robbery, conspiracy and weapons offenses. Villagran and Williams face felony murder, robbery, conspiracy and weapons charges. Brown’s bail was set at $5 million; Villagran and Williams were held on $1 million bail.
Authorities in Seattle say they are looking into whether Brown’s extremist religious beliefs led him to kill Anderson-Young and Said outside Anderson-Young’s home in Leschi. Seattle police have said they are investigating whether the two Seattle men were killed because they were gay.
Brown, 29, is charged in King County Superior Court with two counts of aggravated murder that could potentially result in the death penalty.
Police said Anderson-Young and Said were hanging out at RPlace, a gay nightclub on Capitol Hill, on May 31 and met up with a man identified as a friend of Said’s outside the club. Witnesses later identified that man as Brown.
Police say Brown, Said and Anderson-Young drove to Anderson-Young’s house, in the 500 block of 29th Avenue South, where Brown pulled a gun and killed the two men then drove off in Said’s car. It was later found abandoned in South Seattle.
Police said they linked Brown to the slayings after finding his fingerprints and three spent 9-mm shell casings inside Said’s car. The mother of Brown’s children told police that her 9-mm semiautomatic handgun was missing, and she said Brown had access to the handgun, according to the charges.
Looking at a photo montage at Seattle police headquarters, one of Anderson-Young’s friends pointed out Brown as the man who drove away from Capitol Hill with the victims, charges said.
“The murders took place less than 17 minutes after two witnesses saw Ali Brown leave with the victims in Said’s car. There is no evidence to suggest that Said and/or Anderson-Young were armed, and these murders do not appear to be motivated by robbery, drugs or any other crime,” Seattle police Detective Cloyd Steiger wrote in charging documents.
Brown, a Muslim who law-enforcement sources say claims to be a jihadi, served federal prison time for conspiracy to commit bank fraud in connection with a plot to defraud several banks.
In that case, between January 2002 and November 2004, Brown and three other men defrauded U.S. Bank, Bank of America, Key Bank, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo and Boeing Employees Credit Union by depositing counterfeit and fake checks then withdrawing funds before the checks were returned, according to charging documents filed in U.S. District Court.
Authorities determined that many of the men involved were supporting terrorism in Somalia.
In March 2012, Brown pleaded guilty to communication with a minor for immoral purposes and was sentenced to a year in jail.
The King County Prosecutor’s Office said the decision on whether to pursue the death penalty will not be made until Brown returns to Seattle. It’s unclear whether Brown will be prosecuted in New Jersey first, or returned to Seattle for prosecution.
Information from Seattle Times archives and The Associated Press is included in this report.Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294