Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Graton man gets 16-year prison sentence for 2008 home invasion

Malcolm Safa Brown was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Tuesday, May 26, 2009. Lake County Jail photo.

LAKE COUNTY – A Graton man has been sentenced to state prison for his part in a home invasion last fall.

On Tuesday, Malcolm Safa Brown, 41, was sentenced to 16 years in prison by Judge Arthur Mann, according to the Lake County District Attorney's Office.

On April 20 Brown had pleaded guilty to charges of first degree burglary, assault with a firearm as an aider and abettor, and also admitted to enhancements for suffering a prior “strike” conviction and a prior prison term, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who prosecuted the case. The prior “strike” conviction was for a first degree burglary conviction in 1998.

Last Nov. 13, Brown and transient Charles William Burk, 31, were alleged to have broken into a home on Noble Ranch Road in Hidden Valley Lake before leading local authorities on a day-long search in the gated community, as Lake County News has reported.

Brown and Burk – who were using methamphetamine at the time – went to the home of Burk's aunt, uncle and cousin, allegedly to commit a home invasion theft, according to investigative reports.

The men entered the house while the family was sleeping, the reports noted. Brown is alleged to have begun hitting a 22-year-old Donald Merrill Jr. in the head with a wooden stool while Burk grabbed a .22-caliber rifle and tried to shoot his 52-year-old uncle, Donald Merrill Sr.

After they were overpowered by the victims, Brown and Burk fled the scene in a white pickup truck. Burk, who was driving, is alleged to have intentionally rammed a sheriff’s patrol vehicle being driven by Deputy Brian Smith as they attempted to make their getaway, Hinchcliff said.

The men then drove through a private gate, crashed into a tree, and split up in an effort to evade officers. Burk is believed to have attempted to break into a nearby home after the crash, but the homeowner was able to prevent him from getting in the door.

The ensuing 11-hour search – which included several agencies – involved authorities using ground patrol and a Sonoma County Sheriff's Office helicopter to look for the men in the Hidden Valley Lake subdivision.

Burk was later found hiding under the exterior deck of a Stonegate Road home. Before his capture he had broken into a home on Raven Hill Road, stole clothes and shaved his head in an effort to change his appearance.

Brown was arrested a short time later in a field near Highway 29 and Arabian Lane, according to the original sheriff's report.

Mann ordered Brown, who was represented by defense attorney William Conwell, to pay a $3,200 restitution fine. Because of the “strike,” Hinchcliff said Brown will have to serve at least 80 percent of the 16-year sentence, rather than the usual 50 percent.

Hinchcliff said Brown will be transported to San Quentin Prison for processing to determine where he will serve out the remainder of his prison sentence.

Charges are still pending against Burk in the case, Hinchcliff said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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