On Wednesday, Judge JaPaul Harris sentenced Kle Swee to 306 months – or 25.5 years – in prison, with a minimum incarceration of 204 months – or 17 years – followed by supervised probation.
He previously pleaded guilty to murder charges, waiving his rights to a certification hearing, and moving the case out of juvenile court. Swee was initially charged as a juvenile in the case, but prosecutors had sought to certify him as an adult. He was 17 years old when the shooting occurred.
Prior to sentencing, Brasel's widow, Hilary Brasel, described their lives together, saying in part, "Michael was a respected, honest and hardworking man… I've lost my husband, but more importantly my best friend. I no longer have my soulmate. Michael was my compass, and I feel lost without him… Our family had so many hopes and dreams that died the day he was murdered."
A total of 12 family members, including Brasel's children, offered impact statements before Swee's sentencing, telling stories about Brasel and describing how much he meant to them.
Police said Swee and another teen, Ta Mla, were out stealing items from vehicles in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul in May when they were confronted by Brasel, a hockey coach and father of two, as they were stealing from the vehicle in front of Brasel's home.
Brasel was shot when he noticed the crime in progress and tried to intervene. Brasel's wife reported hearing three shots and running out to find her husband shot in the front yard.
Prosecutors said they would seek the maximum sentence for Swee. But in court documents, defense attorneys asked the judge for a downward departure from sentencing guidelines – which means a lighter sentence than what the guidelines call for.
Defense attorneys asked for Swee to serve 15 years behind bars for the killing. They argue he was acting in self-defense – to protect Mla as he wrestled with Brasel.
In the motion for the downward departure, Swee's defense attorneys for Swee claim he "panicked" and fired shots at Brasel.
Before the Brasel killing, Swee had faced charges in another high-profile incident, a robbery at Harding High School bathroom that was recorded and posted on social media.
Those who want to support the endowment that has been established in Brasel's honor can donate here.