When it was time for the 38-year-old woman to address the court about the man convicted of raping her and leaving her for dead, she at first struggled to find the words. She fumbled with her hands and scratched her head.
"I can't do nothing but think about him," she slowly told Judge Timothy J. Doory. "I was in therapy, and they said when a person is an abuser, once upon a time maybe they was abused. But he did that."
Her voice rising, she turned to William Vincent Brown, the man convicted in her attack and two others that left a 15-year-old girl and a 25-year-old woman dead.
"That day you were taking me to Leakin Park, I saw something. It was like the devil was jumping in and out of your body, like you were fighting something."
She moved closer to him.
"You tried to take them," she said, referring to the ears he nearly severed from her head. "But God gave them back.
"I just want you to know, I'm not afraid of you. I'm not scared of you. I'm not even angry at you no more. I'm just praying for you."
Her emotional words brought to a close a period of terror in which police and prosecutors say Brown, 44, targeted vulnerable women, two of whom were sex workers, in Northwest Baltimore. Police say the Gwynn Oak man confessed to one of the crimes and was linked through DNA evidence to all three.
Brown, a father of two, murdered 15-year-old Antania Mills, whose body was found along a roadside with a shirt wrapped around her neck; fatally beat Emma O'Hearn, whose comatose body was found by two students on the grounds of Calverton Middle School; and attacked and maimed the woman who survived.
Convicted by a jury in the attempted murder, Brown entered an Alford plea this week in the murder cases, acknowledging that the state had enough evidence to convict him. Doory sentenced him to life in prison with all but 50 years suspended.
"This is a horrible and tragic case," Doory said in handing down the sentence. "Lives have been destroyed; lives have been forfeited."
Brown was a run-of-the-mill drug dealer who had been given repeated chances to turn his life around in Howard County, where he was punished with suspended prison sentences and probation. The investigations into the sex assaults initially stumbled, with the surviving victim identifying a different suspect. Prosecutors also had previously charged two other men in Mills' death, both of whom were acquitted.
The crimes for which Brown was charged occurred over a period of 11 months beginning in 2003. He was arrested in 2008 amid a string of other attacks on prostitutes and women, though he has not been linked to those cases, which either remain open or resulted in the arrests of other men.
The surviving victim, whom The Baltimore Sun is not identifying because she is the victim of a sex crime, said she flagged down Brown's Nissan 300ZX for a ride on April 13, 2003, and was taken to Leakin Park, where he choked her, raped her and nearly severed her ears from her head.
After numerous surgeries, her ears were reattached. "God gave it all back, and I can hear," the woman said Friday. "I can hear today!"
Prosecutors sought a sentence of life with all but 60 years suspended. Prosecutor Diana Smith and Doory said Brown has charges pending in Howard County and Pennsylvania, where Smith said Brown had been convicted in absentia for assault and false imprisonment of a Philadelphia woman in 1999.
Sidney Ford, the executive director of You Are Never Alone, a group that helps women involved in prostitution and sex trafficking, said she had "mixed emotions" about the sentence. Crimes against sex workers rarely get this far she said.
"At the same time … I think 50 years with the possibility of parole in 25 years is an extraordinarily generous sentence," Ford said.
She said in discussions with prostitutes, others described patterns of injury and approach to the experiences of the surviving victim. "I have to think this same individual may be responsible for many more crimes," she said.
In a statement, Baltimore State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein said Brown "believed that these women were expendable and that we wouldn't pursue their killer with vigor because of their backgrounds. He was wrong on both counts. Nobody in our city is invisible, second class, or beneath our concern."
Brown's mother spoke on his behalf, saying she was praying for the victims but that her son had "always been a respectful, decent person."
"I know it's coming from his mother, but he is not the monster people have put him out to be," she said.
Brown's attorney, Robert Cohen, told Doory that there were "legitimate appellate issues" in the case.
Doory appeared to take exception to that claim. "This case is over and done with, and it will never come back," he said.
Brown will be eligible for parole after 25 years, Doory said. "That's just parole eligibility. He will present a very bleak picture for the parole board to consider," he said. "The law now recognizes you as a killer and rapist. You now go to jail to deal with that."