ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia man was sentenced to 45 years in prison Thursday in the revenge-killing of a man who had stolen an ounce of marijuana from him in 2019.
Xyqwavius “Qwa” Brown was shot in the chest on October 26, 2019 outside of his apartment in Alexandria. Though there were no firsthand witnesses, detectives were quickly pointed in the direction of Melvin Palma Flores, who had a run-in with Brown the previous day.
According to police, Brown had contacted Flores under the pretense of purchasing an ounce of weed, but when Flores met Brown, he and three other people instead robbed him. According to a witness, Flores pulled out a handgun, but could not bring himself to shoot the men.
Throughout the rest of the day, Brown taunted Flores through social media, messaging him directly and posting a video on his story where he told Flores, “You won’t n—-. Stop cappin’ n—-.”
About half an hour later, the first 911 call was made to report that Brown had been shot.
According to prosecutors, Flores had used the Snapchat account of a friend, Kollin Worlds, to convince Brown to leave his apartment, then set out with Worlds and his then-girlfriend Laila Sheehy in her car to confront Brown. Cell phone records placed Flores in the area of the apartment complex at the time of the shooting.
Flores directed them to park some distance away from the apartment building, and neither witnessed what happened next – but by the time Flores returned, Brown had been shot at least three times.
That night, Flores met his cousin at his home, and, above an empty sewer grate, burned an article of clothing. When his cousin asked Flores what he was doing, Flores told him he had just murdered someone.
Flores had turned 18 just nine days before.
Going to Trial
Flores was arrested on February 19, 2020, but the final indictment in his case wasn’t filed until May 2021. In addition to charges of murder and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, Flores was also charged with witness tampering. He was eventually convicted on all charges.
That’s because, while Flores was still in jail, he gave a letter to another inmate who was due for release, and asked him to deliver it to Sheehy.
In the letter, Flores asked Sheehy to lie when called to testify against him, and instead point the finger at Worlds, who Flores maintained was the actual killer.
Flores’ lawyer, in a sentencing report requesting leniency from the court, noted that Worlds admitted during the trial that he and Sheehy had been carrying on a secret relationship, unbeknownst to Flores. It’s unclear why Flores believed this information supported a lenient sentence.
The defense also emphasized Flores’ youth, writing, “The weight of the evidence presented at trial support the conclusion that Melvin fits squarely within the parameters of the ‘impulsive decision’ making teenager.”
“While his age does not excuse or absolve his criminal responsibility it does provide some context,” they continued.
The court evidently was not convinced by his pleas for leniency. Flores called on the court to impose a sentence of 25 years, along with supervised release and participation in a drug rehabilitation program while incarcerated.
The prosecution, meanwhile, wrote unsparingly of Flores’ evident lack of remorse.
“The defendant has never accepted responsibility for his actions,” they wrote. “To the contrary, he took the stand during his trial and tried to blame the shooting on Worlds. He has never expressed an ounce of remorse or empathy for Qwa Brown’s grandmother, Joyce Brown, or any of Mr.Brown’s family or friends.”
Prosecutors requested a sentence of fifty years. On Thursday, September 8, the court imposed a sentence of forty-five years in federal prison.