116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A Coggon woman said Friday the “nightmare” that changed her life began when a man came to her door around 6:30 p.m. Jan. 9, identifying himself as a police investigator.
In a victim impact statement, Sandra Henderson, 72, said she and her husband, Joseph, 73, soon realized Brandon Lee, 33, of Cedar Rapids, wasn’t there for any investigation. She felt immediate fear and attempted to call 911, but the man pointed a gun at her head.
Henderson said her husband, who had cancer and dementia, “put up a fight” and suffered while trying to protect her, their home and his dignity. The man stole money from them and damaged their home. She knows the beating impacted her husband’s remaining months.
He died of cancer a few months after the assault.
Joseph Henderson suffered facial fractures and Sandra Henderson had a deep laceration to her head.
A Linn County jury found Lee guilty in July of two counts each of first-degree robbery and willful injury, and one count each of first-degree theft and impersonating a public official.
On Friday, 6th Judicial District Judge Christopher Bruns, calling Lee’s actions and behavior “heinous, inexcusable and predatory conduct,” sentenced him to 60 years in prison. He faced up to 77 years, but Bruns ran some of the sentences concurrently.
Lee must serve a minimum of 30 years before being eligible for parole.
During sentencing, Lee apologized to Sandra Henderson and members of her family who attended the hearing.
He said he was remorseful and thinks about what he did every day.
“I’m terribly sorry for any pain I’ve caused you,” Lee told the family. “I’m truly sorry. I wish I could take it back what I did, but I can’t.”
Henderson, in her statement, said she didn’t believe Lee had remorse. He never admitted to taking the money from their safe and never returned the money. Lee wasn’t remorseful at trial, she said.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Rena Schulte called the assault “a premeditated attack” on a defenseless couple. This wasn’t Lee’s “first rodeo,” she said, pointing to his previous convictions and prison time.
“There was no reason for this level of violence,” Schulte said. “He had a gun and fired it during the incident.”
Jeremy Elges, Lee’s lawyer, said his client was using drugs heavily, which was the driving force behind the crime. Lee’s sobriety is important to him now, and he wants to be a different person going forward.
Elges asked the judge to run all the sentences concurrently for a total of 25 years.
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