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Brazill Parents Comment on Son's 28-Year Jail Sentence

Aired July 27, 2001 - 11:50   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you back to West Palm Beach, Florida. We expect to hear from the family and friends of Nathaniel Brazill following the sentencing of this young man.

Let's go ahead and listen in.


REV. THOMAS MASTERS, BRAZILL FAMILY ADVISER: ... has ruled as I asked him to think about, and to rule on yesterday. If you recollect, I did ask the judge to rule as if though Nate Brazill Jr. was his own son. I asked him to think about the wisdom of Solomon. He has ruled; he has given Nate Jr. leniency. I am thankful.

At this time, however, let me say that we will continue to press the public defender's office; we'll continue to address and meet, convene with our state attorneys and our state legislators and others to make sure that we don't get where we are again. To see what we can do collectively to raise this whole issue of trying children, particularly younger children, as adults.

We must turn this state around, because we are leading the nation in prosecuting children as adults. So we've got to fix this. We should never, never have this to (sic) happen again.

We're going to ask Polly to speak at this time as a mother. And then we will take it from there.


I just want to thank everybody who has sent their prayers, their love, their letters. Without people praying for me, I know that I wouldn't have made it through all of this. And for the press who tried not to pressure me so much at times, I thank you all for being patient with me.

I just wanted to say to Judge Wennet, I know he searched himself and it just -- I don't know what to say. But I think it was fair, but I still -- for my son, I have to fight on. And I might be seeing you all in the next 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 disappointed by this; you had hoped for somewhat of a break; you hoped for much less. Talk about that; had you hoped for a little less than that?

POWELL: I hoped for less, but I am an adult. And I kind of know the system. Only thing that we can do is pray for better -- a much better system for the next child that has to go through this.

QUESTION: What do you think...


MASTERS: Hold on, excuse me. One at a time. Hold on, hold on -- go ahead.


QUESTION: ... allow you, (OFF-MIKE) judge wouldn't allow you to hug your son?

POWELL: I know that he just didn't want to create so much stuff in the courtroom. But that's OK; I know that one day I will.

MASTERS: One at a time. Just a second. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Polly, how do you get Nathaniel ready -- to mentally prepare for the fact he'll spend the next 28 years of his life in prison? How do you deal with this with him?

POWELL: Today, please, nobody -- I'm going to the jailhouse to see my son today. Please don't come. Give us that time. And then we'll deal with that together.

QUESTION: What will you say to him out there today...

POWELL: I don't know. I don't know.

MASTERS: That's a private matter.

QUESTION: Did you talk to him yesterday -- last night, before the sentencing to prepare him that he may have gone to prison for the rest of his life?

POWELL: No, I did not.

MASTERS: One of the things with Nate Jr. -- hold on -- one of the things that -- we met with him about 10 days ago. We encouraged him, we prayed with him and we said to him, it ain't over yet. Let's keep praying. We believe that prayer changes things. We have said that from day one. We say it now. We'll say it tomorrow.

POWELL: And prayer changes people; and people change things. And I would just like for people to pray. Sometimes you all make me feel like you all ain't got no souls. Take a minute of silence and thank God that it wasn't neither one of you all's children; that you are not in my place, and pray that you never get in my place. Thank you. No more questions.

MASTERS: No more questions. Nate Sr.

KAGAN: We've been listening to comments from Polly Powell.

This is Nathaniel Brazill's father. Let's listen in to him as well.

NATHANIEL BRAZILL SR., BRAZILL'S FATHER: Nobody wins. This -- nobody won in this situation. The judge pretty much did what he had to do. We knew that coming in. And my opinion, the judge really considered all the testimony; he considered everything. A 28 year sentence, it's a lot less than we would have expected. We'll live with is, but it's not over.

QUESTION: What will you say to your son when you see him?

BRAZILL: I'll say I love him. I'll always love him. I've tried to prepare him for this day, to let him know that whatever the judge gives him, we're just going to accept that and we're going to move on. The judge made sure that we file the necessary appeal papers. He made sure of that in the courtroom. We will appeal.

QUESTION: Prosecutor Marc Shiner had some harsh things to say about your son. Your reaction to what he had to say?

BRAZILL: I just pray for Marc Shiner and wish him the best. I understand he's getting out of the prosecution business. So we just wish him the best. You know, so many things have been said about my son.

You guys never report to the fact that my son's still an honor roll student. He still goes to school out there. My son is the one who's chosen most of the time to do a lot of the cleanup detail work out there. Nobody talks about that. My son still is doing a lot of good things out there at that jailhouse.

For the two guards that you had talked the negative things about him, I can point out at least eight or 10 that had a lot of good things to say about him. So he's still doing good things.

Right now he's under a microscope. And I hope, after today, that this microscope will get off of him. Leave him alone. Let him go on with his life. Let the Grunow family go on with their life.

I mean, this has been like an open wound to us; and it just takes time to heal. Today we hope to start the healing the process. The scar will always be there, but we want to start the healing process today.

QUESTION: Mr. Brazill, if you had your choice, would you have asked that your son be tried as a juvenile offender?

BRAZILL: Absolutely. My son is a juvenile.

QUESTION: What sentence would have been reasonable under the circumstances?

BRAZILL: How could I say what would have been a just and reasonable sentence for him? We have laws in this country that we have to live by.

MASTERS: The point with that is, as the governor said on several occasions in the last few weeks, you cannot sentence a 13-year-old as a 30-year-old. It's wrong; it's morally wrong. And actually, we feel it's unconstitutional. We're going to press that with the governor.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) is between the sentence that your son received today and (OFF-MIKE)

BRAZILL: What's the difference? The process. We went through the whole process. That's the difference.

MASTERS: And you can always appeal. If they had accepted the plea, we could not have appealed.

BRAZILL: We went through the whole process of showing the country what we do to our juveniles when we try them as adults. That's why you all are here today. We tried my child as an adult; he's only 14 years old. Absolutely.

QUESTION: Mr. Brazill, as you look back, do you feel that you failed him as a parent?

BRAZILL: Never. Never do I feel like I failed my son as a present -- as a parent.

MASTERS: That's not a fair question.


BRAZILL: He's sentenced for 28 years, but trust me: God is in control of this situation, like I said at the beginning. I'm a praying person. I pray and believe that God will step in like he's always been doing.

A couple more questions and I'm going to turn this over to these guys who really did the job on this.


BRAZILL: A couple more questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here in the back.

QUESTION: Will you personally contact the Grunows?

BRAZILL: I'm not sure about that. I would like -- this is an open invitation for them to contact me. My phone number -- I mean...

KAGAN: We've been listening to the parents of Nathaniel Brazill. That's Nathaniel Brazill Sr. talking. We heard Polly Powell, his mother, talking right before that -- the reaction to seeing their son sentenced.

If you were with us, you saw it live: Nathaniel Brazill will serve at least 28 years in prison, two years community house arrest and five years probation. That for the murder of Barry Grunow a man who, he said, was his favorite teacher. Nathaniel Brazill is 14 years old. When he gets out of prison he will be at least 42 years old.



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