A Nassau County judge sentenced a county jail inmate to 9 years in prison yesterday in the death of a fellow prisoner two years ago.
Charles Creekmur, 27, of Brooklyn, faced up to 25 years after a Nassau jury convicted him in July of first-degree manslaughter for strangling Antwan Brown on Jan. 7, 2012. Jurors rejected the prosecution's argument that Creekmur committed second-degree murder.
"That's all he . . . [gets] after he took somebody's life," Brown's sister, Tieara Little, said, storming out of court. She plopped into a chair and sobbed, as Assistant District Attorney Martin Meaney consoled her.
At trial, Meaney argued that Creekmur, at 6 feet and 240 pounds, slipped into Brown's cell as the door closed after breakfast and attacked the 5-foot-5, 155-pound Brown.
Creekmur exchanged words with Brown, 26, of Long Beach, the night before, and the attack was an attempt to settle a score, an inmate testified. But Creekmur testified he was attacked by two men and pushed into Brown's cell, where Brown was waiting with a shank.
Wednesday, Creekmur turned to the victim's family and apologized.
Before sentencing, Judge Meryl Berkowitz told Creekmur: "I do believe that at one point or another, you had a choice to stop, and maybe it was your anger, maybe it was your lack of control, but you didn't."
Brown's uncle, Bryant Little, 42, of Elmont said when he learned "my little nephew" died in prison, it "was a very big blow to me."
"I never cried so hard before in my life -- not only for me but for my whole family," he said.
Little, who said he is a minister and teaches Sunday school at a Hempstead church, said he had been in prison before but in "that dark situation, inside that cell, having no one to talk to . . . I had a relationship with God." He hoped the same for Creekmur, he said.
In a statement, Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said her office "worked hard to ensure that those who commit violent acts will be held accountable -- regardless of where they are."
At the time, Creekmur was awaiting trial on robbery and weapons charges. He pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted robbery and was sentenced in March 2012 to three years. The sentences are concurrent.
Defense attorney Joseph Lo Piccolo of Garden City had asked Berkowitz to consider Creekmur's upbringing, including being born addicted to crack and losing both parents at a young age.
Berkowitz, who noted Creekmur was raised by an abusive mother and aunt, who killed her husband in front of him, said: "We as a society failed you every step of the way."
But she told Creekmur that despite "how horrible your life has been up to this point," he must decide, when he is released from prison, if he wants "to get well in spite of everything that happened to you."