Press Release

Man who shot, killed Louisa father following custody dispute sentenced to life for his murder

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LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Madison County man has been sentenced to life plus three years in prison for the first-degree murder of a Louisa County man in May 2023.

According to a press release from the Louisa County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, David A. Branham of Madison County will spend the rest of his life in prison for the murder of Alex Brown following his April 13 sentencing.

Branham was convicted of Brown’s murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in January of this year.

“In my 21 years as a judge, I have not seen a more pre-meditated murder and a more relentless pursuit of a victim,” said Judge Timothy Sanner, who presided over the case, in the press release.

What happened to Alex Brown?

Alex Brown, a Louisa County man who was killed after a custody hearing on May 9, 2023. (Photo provided by the Louisa County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.)

Brown’s ex-wife was reportedly living with Branham when she reached out to Brown in the spring of 2023 and told him she needed him to take full custody of their three children, as she was moving out of Branham’s residence.

According to the office, she told Brown things were “too toxic” with Branham.

A custody hearing was then scheduled for May 9. That day, Brahnam reportedly went to a 7-Eleven at about 4:30 a.m. to try to purchase a gun, which was caught on camera.

Then, at about 6:30 a.m., Branham reportedly sent Brown threatening messages advising him to be careful when driving to the courthouse.

One of these messages included a photo, shown below, of a fire burning on what appears to be a wood pile.

A screenshot of a threatening photo showing a fire that David Branham sent Alex Brown the day he murdered him. (Photo provided by the Louisa County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.)

Once there, Branham was confronted by Brown’s ex-wife about these texts and soon left, before the hearing began. Concern was reportedly expressed by involved attornies that Branham would harm Brown.

According to the office, after leaving the courthouse, Branham went home to get a shotgun and ammunition. Once these were in his possession, he headed to the gated community Brown’s mother lived in.

The gated community required an access card — but Branham got around this by trailing closely behind someone who was authorized entry. All of this was also caught on video.

Branham was waiting for Brown when he returned from court. According to the office, Branham shot into the car Brown arrived in three times, with these shots missing the other two people in the car but hitting Brown at least once.

The car reportedly backed out of the driveway and Brown fled from the car into the house. According to the office, Branham followed him and continued to shoot.

Brown then ran from the house and down the street, crying for help. Branham reportedly kept up with him, reloading and continuing to fire.

Brown made it three houses down, where he pounded on a neighbor’s door for help, according to the office.

A utility worker who heard the commotion drove up to the home in time for his dashcam to film Branham firing his last shots at Brown, killing him.

Thoughts on the sentencing from those involved

According to the office, the Commonwealth’s Attorney recommended a life sentence for Branham, which Judge Sanner agreed with.

Sanner reportedly called Brown’s death an “execution” and said the loss suffered was incalculable.

“While we are glad that Judge Sanner imposed the maximum sentence under the law, this case is still a tragedy for Alex Brown’s children who will grow up without a father and the life sentence of his mother and girlfriend who will re-live what they witnessed on May 9, 2023, for the rest of their lives,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire in the release.

Co-counsel Megan Riordan said she wants Brown’s three children to lovingly remember him.

“We hope Alex’s children will learn what a great man their father was and have comfort knowing the murderer will spend the rest of his life in prison,” she said.

Brown’s family expressed their gratitude for the ruling but acknowledged this does not undo what Branham did to their loved one.

“Although this sentence does not bring Alex back, we are happy that justice has been served,” said Brown’s mother, Suzanne McKoy, in the release.

Krystal Hinkley, who was dating Brown at the time of his death, shared a similar sentiment.

“I am at peace knowing the man who killed Alex and impacted so many other lives, especially [those of] his three children, will not be able to hurt another person or walk free again,” she said.

Branham will serve his life sentence, plus three additional years for the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, at the Virginia Department of Corrections.

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