Sentenced to life: Brian Brownlee pleads guilty

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Allyson Beauregard


Allyson Beauregard

CLARENDON – Sixty-nine year-old Brian Brownlee was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for ten years (including time already served), July 3, after pleading guilty to second degree murder and eleven firearms charges related to the 78 guns found on his property. He was sentenced to an additional three years for each firearms offence, to be served concurrent to one another and the life sentence. 
“We can’t add [time] on top of a life sentence, but the firearms offences will be taken into account at his parole hearing,” said Marie-Claude D’Aoust, Chief Prosecutor for the Pontiac.
The decision was made over a year and a half after police responded to a call at Brownlee’s Clarendon property in the early morning of January 18, 2017, where they discovered the body of 50 year-old Shawville resident Darwin Zimmerling; Zimmerling was pronounced dead at the hospital and the cause of death was
determined to be related to multiple gun shot wounds.
Both Zimmerling and Brownlee were determined to be heavily under the influence of alcohol at the time of the murder. D’Aoust said it is difficult to determine exactly what happened because Brownlee says his impairment fogged his memory. Brownlee claimed it was a crime of compassion whereby he ended the victim’s
life after Zimmerling shot himself, however, the prosecution doubts the story; the body had eight gunshot wounds, mostly to the chest and back. D’Aoust noted
that during the sentencing hearing, Brownlee admitted to intentionally firing the shots, knowing they would kill the victim. 
Brownlee first appeared in court in Gatineau on January 19, 2017 where he faced charges for second degree murder. He remained in custody and agreed to plead guilty to second degree murder during a preliminary court hearing in April, avoiding a trial. He was represented by Gatineau attorney Me Marino Mendo. Brownlee is currently held at a centre in Laval where his risk will be evaluated, before the prison where he will serve his time, is decided.   
Zimmerling is survived by his two children. 
As of press time, Me Mendo had not responded to the Journal’s inquiries.