Webster Township man sentenced to 13-30 years in fatal shooting of his brother
Garth Keehl had enough.
His older brother Brett, a former U.S. Marine who was always on the better end of their frequent physical fights, was again knocking him around, Garth Keehl says.
Their dispute over fixing a three-wheeled, all-terrain vehicle was into its third day by May 20. That day, Keehl said, he decided to end it - and their tumultuous relationship - by emptying his gun at close range with several witnesses looking on.
“It’s true. I had it up to here with it that day,” said Keehl, motioning to his temple during an emotional sentencing hearing Wednesday in Washtenaw County Circuit Court.
“He wouldn’t stop your honor. He hit me one last time and I pulled the trigger,” he said, covering his face with his shackled hands as he cried. “I didn’t stop until I was out of ammo.”
Keehl, 49, was shot five times, including twice in the back as he tried to flee, prosecutors said. After the shooting, his younger brother sped to his nearby home on his bicycle and was still holding the weapon when Washtenaw County Sheriff’s deputies arrived.
Circuit Judge Archie Brown sentencedÂ Keehl toÂ 13 to 30 years in prison Wednesday as part of a sentencing agreement that coincided with Keehl’s no contest plea to second-degree murder. He’ll also serve an additional two years for weapons violations.
The punishment was at the lower end of state sentencing guidelines and was less than the 45-year maximum recommended in a pre-sentence report. Brown called it an "unpremeditated intent to kill."Â
Ralph Keehl, their father, recounted for the court how the brothers brawled from adolescence through adulthood. The weekend before the shooting, he said he witnessed an altercation between the two where Brett said he would put his brother in the hospital and nearly did.
He said he urged Brett to “let it go” and stop fighting his brother, but it was too late.
Ralph KeehlÂ described the last time he saw his son, gasping for breath on the lawn.
“I saw Brett coming to me for help,” he recalled. “But I couldn’t help. I could tell by the way he looked that was going to die. I still see that, your honor, and I’ll never forget it.”
Their mother shook her head repeatedly and cried during his remarks and a statement from Anissa Troutt, the victim’s fiancÃ©e.
Troutt, who was also at the scene with her children, said she distinctly remembers Garth Keehl's facial expression right after the shooting. She said he’s yet to show any remorse.
“I asked where Brett was and he had this smirk on his face as he pointed me in (Brett’s) direction,” she said. “He deserved better than that.”
Art Aisner is a freelance writer for AnnArbor.com. Reach the news desk at email@example.com or 734-623-2530.