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Man gets over 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to home invasion that left retired cop dead

Cook County prosecutors dropped multiple murder and burglary charges against Nicholas Heisler as part of a plea deal.

Cook County Criminal Courts, 2601 S. California Blvd.
The Leighton Criminal Courthouse
Sun-Times file

A 27-year-old man was sentenced to more than two decades in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to home invasion in a 2014 robbery that left retired Chicago Police Sgt. Elmer Brown dead.

Cook County Judge James Obbish sentenced Nicholas Heisler to 23 years and six months in prison after Heisler pleaded guilty to the single count in a deal reached with prosecutors.

As part of the deal, prosecutors dropped multiple murder and burglary charges against Heisler, according to court records.

Heisler was 20 years old and living in Indiana when he was charged with Brown’s murder, along with Jesse Kazmierski, 18, and Jeremy Mendez, who was 16 at the time.

Nicholas Heisler in an undated booking photo
Nicholas Heisler in an undated booking photo
Cook County sheriff’s office

Kazmierski, 25, pleaded guilty to murder in 2019 and is currently serving a 33-year sentence at the Pontiac Correctional Center, state prison records show.

Mendez was initially charged with Brown’s murder as an adult. But a 2015 change to the state law for youth offenders led to his case being transferred to juvenile court, where he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was given the maximum sentence of five years, a spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office said Thursday.

Mendez was released from custody in 2019.

Brown, 73, was shot in the face during the March 10, 2014 robbery and died two weeks later.

He and his wife had been watching TV when the three robbers rang the doorbell at Brown’s East Side home looking for money that they believed the 38-year police veteran kept inside a safe at his home, the Chicago Sun-Times previously reported.

Jesse Kazmierski
Jesse Kazmierski
Illinois Department of Corrections

Brown’s wife was lying face-down during the robbery. After she heard a gunshot, she then saw her husband lying in a hallway, prosecutors said.

The group made off with some cash, a rifle and a knife from the home, prosecutors said.

It wasn’t clear who fired the shot that killed Brown, since all three assailants had covered their faces with their sweatshirts during the robbery, prosecutors said.

Heilser was charged in December that year and had been held without bail at the Cook County jail since.