MANCHESTER, Iowa — A 21-year-old man on Tuesday was sentenced to 18 years in prison for aiding and abetting the killing of a Delaware County couple.
Judge Monica Ackley sentenced Brandon Ahlers to five years each for charges of unauthorized possession of an offensive weapon and third-degree burglary, two years each for two charges of being an accessory after the fact and one year each for two charges of attempted third-degree burglary.
“It’s the coldest thing I think I’ve ever heard in my life,” Ackley said of the man’s actions.
Ahlers also was given two more years for a parole violation, bringing the total sentence to 18 years.
He originally was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, punishable by a life sentence without parole, for the May 2012 deaths of Janet and Richard Sweet, the custodial grandparents of Isaiah Sweet. Investigators say Ahlers helped Isaiah Sweet plan and cover up the killings.
As part of the plea deal, Ahlers will testify against Isaiah Sweet, who is charged with two counts of first-degree murder for allegedly shooting his grandparents.
Before Ackley gave her sentence, Angie Camlin read a statement to the court. It detailed the pain her family has endured since the death of Camlin’s mother and stepfather. The family discovered the bodies of Janet and Richard Sweet two days after they died, on Mother’s Day.
“My daughter is the one who walked into the house and witnessed her grandparents dead and the bloody scene that was there,” Camlin said. “It’s the most horrible thing for anyone to witness and especially for the people who you love.”
She said her daughter has needed extensive counseling to deal with her trauma, and there has been an emotional and financial strain for Camlin and her family.
Camlin said Ahlers apparently broke into the Sweets’ home after the killing, walking past the bodies in order to steal items from the home. She said even an anonymous call from Ahlers to report the incident could have saved the family the trauma of discovering the scene.
“I want him in jail for as long as you can make it happen,” she said.”
Ahlers spoke briefly before his sentence was read, asking Ackley for a day to visit his ailing grandmother and his two sons. That request was denied.
In delivering her sentence, Ackley said she found it disturbing that Ahlers didn’t have the conscience to report the killings and chastised him for his lack of compassion for human life. She also told Ahlers to look up at her as she pronounced his actions “appalling.”
“I can’t imagine walking in ... and finding what (the family) found,” she said.
The man accused of aiding and abetting the deaths of a Manchester couple last year will serve 18 years in prison.
Dubuque District Court Judge Monica Ackley sentenced Brandon Ahlers, 20, to 18 years in prison today, calling his actions the "coldest thing" she has ever seen.
The daughter of Richard and Janet Sweet read a statement today. In it, she asked Ackley to give Ahlers as much prison time as possible. She said her daughter discovered the bodies of the Sweets in May 2012, and has needed much counseling to cope.
Ahlers entered an Alford plea to class D felony charges of unauthorized possession of an offensive weapon and third-degree burglary, as well as two aggravated misdemeanor charges of being an accessory after the fact, and two serious misdemeanor charges of attempted third-degree burglary. July 16 as part of a plea deal. The reduced charges are contingent on Ahlers testifying against Isaiah Sweet, who police say shot his custodial grandparents to death in May 2012.
An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgment by the defendant that there is sufficient evidence to convict.