Chris Brown's sentencing hearing looked like it might give him a second chance.
He might have been sentenced to probation, but he addressed the court not with remorse, but with indignation at the conduct of law enforcement.
He left the courtroom Friday with a four-year prison sentence.
At a Nov. 14 jury trial, Brown was convicted of possession of methamphetamine, possession of chemicals and supplies to manufacture methamphetamine and cultivating marijuana.
At the outset of Friday's hearing, Brown's defense, the prosecutor and the judge seemed to think that the 49-year-old might have a chance for probation and rehabilitation.
Twenty people wrote letters to the judge on Brown's behalf. Brown's two sons and his own father spoke about his merits and said what Brown needed was help for his addiction, not time behind bars. Brown's attorney, Ralph Cantafio, painted a picture of Chris Brown the father, the business owner, the involved citizen, the addict who used drugs to deal with his problems, but otherwise was an honorable man.
A clean criminal record weighed in his favor.
Then Judge Michael O'Hara gave Brown a chance to address the court.
What followed was a diatribe about alleged corruption in the justice system, a blow-by-blow account of his arrest and a fleeting admission of guilt just before he took his seat.
Despite repeated warnings from O'Hara that the angry speech would not help the defendant's case, Brown was unrelenting.
"This is not a forum for you to use the press so you can rant about how bad law enforcement acted," O'Hara said.
The judge asked Brown to consider his own guilt.
Instead of admitting his guilt and asking for a chance to get clean, Brown preferred to thumb his nose at the court and the justice system, O'Hara said.
O'Hara tried to persuade Brown to stop his raging.
"I'd like to finish," Brown said, and resumed his story.
It was clear Brown was sabotaging himself.
"Sit down, Chris," said someone in Brown's entourage of family and friends.
"I fully expected to be here debating the terms of probation," Dave Waite, Moffat County's chief deputy district attorney, told the judge. "I don't believe Mr. Brown will succeed on probation."
Probation requires responsibility, Waite said.
"Mr. Brown is not yet taking responsibility," Waite said.
"I would have been willing to offer you probation," O'Hara said. But after Brown's actions in court, O'Hara said he had no reason to believe Brown could comply with its terms. Brown wrote a letter, which O'Hara said was "full of venom and spite."
"Probation is a privilege, not a right," O'Hara said.
When the defendant interrupted, O'Hara said, "You can sit down. I'm not going to let you make another statement."
"I strongly suggest you look up the word 'introspection,'" O'Hara said. "You don't seem to be capable of introspection."
Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org