Quantrell L. McDaniel was sentenced Thursday to up to 50 years in prison for fatally shooting Brandon M. Smith in September 2015.
The man who prosecutors say gave him the gun, Dantawn L. Cole, was sentenced to up to five years in prison.
The two men, 20 and 25, respectively, were sentenced Thursday in separate 30-minute hearings in Scott County District Court.
McDaniel declined to make a statement before District Court Judge Mark Lawson handed down the sentence.
In a written statement to the court, Cole apologized for his “immature” and rash decision the night Smith was killed.
“I want to apologize to the family of Brandon Smith for causing such havoc … for that I’m truly sorry from the bottom of my heart,” he said.
About 9:30 p.m. Sept. 24, 2015, McDaniel and Cole went to the EZ Mart, 2923 Brady St., where they saw Smith make a purchase and leave the store, according to police.
After exchanging words, Cole retrieved a stolen .22-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun from a home in the 2800 block of Brady Street and gave it to McDaniel, who used it to shoot Smith twice around East Garfield and Dubuque streets, according to police.
Smith, 29, of Davenport, was taken to Genesis Medical Center-East Rusholme Street, Davenport, where he died from his injuries.
McDaniel, who originally faced a first-degree murder, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Feb. 28, the day attorneys finished selecting jurors to hear his case.
During the plea hearing, McDaniel admitted that he did not act in self-defense and apologized to Smith’s family.
On Wednesday, he filed a handwritten motion seeking to take back his guilty plea, saying that he was a “little pressured by my attorneys to take the plea agreement and had very little time to think on my own.”
During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, he decided not to pursue his motion to take back his plea.
During the emotional hearing, Smith’s sister, Sharice Hanson, said her brother was her protector, someone who helped her when she was in the “lowest times of my life as an early adult.”
“He came and saved me, drove hours to find me across cities to bring me home, to feed me, give me a place to stay, give me the love I needed to get back on my feet,” she said through tears. “The biggest thing that hurts me and the biggest things that hurts my heart is that I couldn’t protect him from you. I couldn’t save him the way he saved me. You stole his life, you stole my brother.”
April McIntire, a victim’s advocate with Horizons Survivor’s Program, read letters at both sentencings on behalf of Smith’s mother, Jennifer Pieper, who sat in the courtroom gallery.
In the letter read by McIntire, Pieper wrote that she will “not stand here and speak of my loss, my heartache, precious moments I hold dear of my son, his hopes his dreams, with the very killer who took his life.”
“Those precious things belong to me, our family, friends and those who loved Brandon,” she said.
Pieper wrote in the letter read at McDaniel’s sentencing that she will never forgive him.
“If there is a breath in my body or muscle that moves in 35 years, I will be there to remind everyone why you should never be paroled,” she said. “Maybe then I’ll be able to speak of my pain. And if I can’t be there, Brandon’s sister will be there. His daughter will be there to speak of her life without her father. We will never forget, and we will never forgive. Brandon Smith mattered. My son mattered.”
Lawson sentenced McDaniel to up to 50 years in prison, the mandatory sentence under Iowa law.
McDaniel must serve 70 percent, or 35 years, before he can be considered for parole. He will be given credit for time already served in the Scott County Jail. He also must pay $150,000 in victim restitution.
Cole, who also faced a first-degree murder charge, pleaded guilty in March 2016 to involuntary manslaughter by commission of a public offense and going armed with intent, both Class D felonies, each punishable by up to five years in prison.
Scott County Attorney Mike Walton said Cole was cooperative from the beginning of the case and he thinks Cole acted without premeditation that night.
However, Cole did make a choice to give McDaniel the weapon that was used to kill Smith, Walton said.
Smith’s father, David, said at Cole’s sentencing that everything started with Cole when he made the decision to give the gun to McDaniel.
“You need to take responsibility for your actions, and the court should consider your direct involvement in this crime,” he said.
David Smith talked about Cole’s plea hearing, where he was asked to tell the judge in his own words what happened that night. Cole, David Smith said, asked his attorney and asked him what his son’s name was.
“You didn’t know,” he said. “After everything that happened, after all that time in jail, after all the proceedings, you didn’t know the name of the man you helped to murder. His name is Brandon Smith, and although not perfect, and none of us are, he was precious and loved, and he was kind and generous.”
Cole’s attorney, Jonathan Stensvaag, asked Lawson for a sentence of probation or, if prison was appropriate, to run the sentences concurrently, or at the same time.
Cole said during his statement to the court that he has participated in programs at the jail, one of which that has helped him to control his anger, and is working toward getting a GED and that he has a family support system in the community.
“I’m done making immature decisions and (am) starting to think before I act,” he said. “Your Honor, I’m ready to accept any punishment you feel I deserve for my ignorant decision.”
Lawson said the fact that a death was involved “makes probation problematic.”
“Frankly, in this community, settling disputes with guns has simply been entirely too prevalent,” he said. “I believe that sentencing you to a term of imprisonment, I hope, does some small part in sending a message to the community that this has got to stop.”
Lawson ruled that Cole’s sentences will run concurrent, for a total of up to five years. Lawson said he based that decision on Cole’s cooperation in the case, his lack of a significant criminal history and a lack of infractions committed during his time in the jail.
He added that he thinks Cole was willing and able to change and that he hopes this will be a “watershed moment for you.”
Lawson also ordered Cole to pay $150,000 in victim restitution.
Both men have 30 days to file a notice of appeal.