As snow fell outside of the Kenosha County Courthouse, a 12-person jury consisting of nine women and three men listened to a chilling 9-1-1 call for the second time. The call recorded Charniese C. Brown’s last words as she was repeatedly stabbed, and then shot in the back with a shotgun by 52-year-old Ranon Brownlee. The beloved mother pleaded for for life, and for help from Kenosha public safety officials. Unfortunately, when police and paramedics arrived, there was nothing they could do. Brownlee likely didn’t expect Officer Luke Courtier, a six-year veteran of the department, to arrive within two minutes of the frantic call. Even though Courtier knew there was a dangerous man inside the house who was armed, he ignored the risk to his own safety and went inside. Brownlee was quickly arrested. Shortly after, another Officer with the same amount of time on the job as Courtier arrived and dragged Charniese outside so he could begin life-saving measures. This officer wept as he told the jury of his failed efforts to save the young mother’s life, performing CPR. This Officer wasn’t the only person to weep in Judge Jason Rossell’s court room this week. About 20 loved ones, including family and friends of Charniese were present for the entire trial. Officer Courtier was in the court room also as the verdict was read. DA Mike Graveley and ADA Emily Gaertner prosecuted this trial, which began Monday. The jury fore-person couldn’t hold back tears either. The jury was tasked to deliberate just minutes before noon. Within ten minutes, they were back, with a verdict in hand. The pizzas ordered for the jury took much longer to get to the courthouse than the time it took the jury to come to an easy conclusion.
Jurors listened to hours of text messages that painted a picture of a controlling, violent and evil man that wanted to control every aspect of Charniese’s life. She told him the relationship was over. “He wasn’t going to let her out of this relationship,” Gaertner told the jury during closing arguments. “Not alive anyway.” A couple of weeks before the murder, Chrarniese’s brother was murdered in Detroit and her family held a balloon release in his memory. Brownlee told his victim in one of the text messages that “your balloon release is coming.” Brownlee gave Detectives an “unreasonable” explanation for this message and it was a promise to murder Charniese, detailed DA Graveley. “You all don’t believe [Brownlee],” Graveley told the Jury.
Brownlee had a history of beating women when they didn’t do what he said. Brownlee severely beat Charniese Brown on October 16, 2019, about a year and a half before her murder. According to the criminal complaint, he punched her in the face, back and ribs about 10 times. He screamed at her “who you been fucking?!” as he beat her. These were the same controlling words he would be heard screaming on the 9-1-1 audio of her murder. Unfortunately, the Kenosha County DA’s office dismissed these charges against Brownlee and he didn’t have to account for this incident. DA Graveley cited the fact that Charniese recanted the allegations and it makes it tough for prosecutors to convict. This goes to show the level of control this woman-beating monster had on the innocent woman. In 2011, Brownlee used bear-spray on a previous girlfriend and was charged with domestic abuse. Brownlee chuckled to detectives Brennan and Kenesie as he detailed his gruesome actions. He smirked for many of his mugshots during his crime-filled life. But he wasn’t smiling when the jury ensured his imprisonment for life. The cloth mask Brownlee wore for the trial likely wasn’t for covid protection, but to hide his cowardly face from the truth of his utter disregard for his victim, her children, or family.
Charniese’s family and friends smiled as they left the courtroom, probably becuase they knew that Brownlee can’t hurt anybody ever again. It was clear by their hugs, words, and prayers after the trial, that the love of their friend, daughter and sister will live on through them and her children.
Brownlee will be sentenced on February 8, 2023 at 2:30 p.m. He faces a lifetime in prison and will be likely be denied any chance of parole.