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Attorney for Nathaniel Brazill Speaks Out

Aired July 27, 2001 - 12:03   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to begin this hour where we left off last hour, with a teenager who shoots and kills his teacher in a fit of anger and faces adult punishment for that act. The punishment was delivered just a few minutes ago for 14-year-old Nathaniel Brazill.

Our Mark Potter has been covering the story from West Palm Beach and joins us with more -- Mark, hello.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello again, Daryn.

The members of the, several members of the Grunow family as well as the prosecutors had asked Judge Richard Wennet to impose a life sentence on Nathaniel Brazill for shooting and killing his teacher, Barry Grunow, last year. But the judge had some options.

He could sentence anywhere from 25 years to life and he chose to sentence something just a little bit closer to the minimum mandatory. He sentenced the boy to 28 years in prison

And let's listen in for a moment as the sentence was imposed just a half hour ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE RICHARD WENNET: It's the judgment of the court that Nathaniel R. Brazill be found and adjudicated guilty of the crime of second degree murder with a firearm for the murder of Barry L. Grunow, and further be found and adjudicated guilty of the crime of aggravated assault with a firearm for the assault upon John James.

That as to the murder of Mr. Grunow, he be sentenced to a term of 28 years in the Department of Corrections.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POTTER: Let's listen in now to Robert Udell. He is the attorney for Nathaniel Brazill.

ROBERT UDELL, ATTORNEY FOR BRAZILL: And I'm sure the Brazills will instruct me to file a notice of appeal. They haven't told me to do so yet. I have 30 days. But I'm sure they will.

QUESTION: Any particular grounds? UDELL: The only -- to be truthful with you, this judge gave us a very fair trial from an evidentiary point of view. A lot of lawyers will tell you, oh, I'm going to argue this, I'm going to argue that. Most appeals are denied. Ninety percent of them are denied. We know that.

There are some unique issues in the jury selection process which will be argued on appeal and those are fertile grounds for appeal because it's either error or not. It can't be harmless error. It's not subject to an abuse of discretion standard. There are a couple there. There's a couple of sentencing issues. Other than that, there's not a lot there, quite honestly.

QUESTION: What does it say about the system that this boy is going, he's 14-years-old and he's going away for twice that?

UDELL: You tell me. What does it say about the system? We've lost our soul in this country. We really have. We do, we warehouse people. That's all we do. We don't begin to even attempt to rehabilitate anymore. And I know that didn't work. But I'll tell you this, all we're doing is warehousing them. They're getting out. Every one of them is getting out.

QUESTION: Have you talked to Nathaniel about it? (unintelligible) what did he say (unintelligible)?

UDELL: We told him not to make a statement so...

POTTER: It is safe to say that the defense attorneys and the family of Nathaniel Brazill were surprised by this sentence. They had expected it to be somewhere in the 35 to 40 year range, feared it could go to life. But 28 years was not what they expected.

Now, just a short while ago we heard from Nathaniel Brazill's mother, Polly Powell, and she talked about the fact that justice was done in, given the circumstances of 25 years to life being the options facing the judge. She thanked him for the mercy that he showed and said, however, that she would continue to fight on for her son. Let's listen to Polly Powell, Nathaniel Brazill's mother.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POLLY POWELL, MOTHER OF NATHANIEL BRAZILL: It's a couple of months right here, but I'll be here. To the Grunow family, we are still praying for you all. One day we just might be at the same podium together, you know? And I know now my son will be coming home one day.

QUESTION: Polly, clearly you're disappoint...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POTTER: Now, we're going to wait to hear shortly from the prosecutor, Marc Shiner. I can say that he clearly has been disappointed by this sentence. He argued for a first degree murder conviction. He got second degree. He argued for a life prison term and got 28 years imposed by Judge Richard Wennet. So I think that he's standing over here. We expect to hear from him fairly soon -- Daryn, back to you.

KAGAN: All right, Mark, when he makes those comments we'll show those live, as well. Mark Potter in West Palm Beach, thank you.

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