A new law signed last week by Gov. Jerry Brown means a 15-year-old Eureka boy can’t be tried as an adult for the alleged murder of 16-year-old Brandon Brocious, stabbed to death Aug. 9 at Oceanview Cemetery.
The District Attorney’s Office had planned to request that the boy, charged with murder and personal use of a knife, be transferred out of Juvenile Court to face charges as an adult. But the law now requires that the defendant must be at least 16 years old. The Eureka boy’s transfer hearing had been scheduled for next week.
District Attorney Maggie Fleming disagrees with the new rule, noting younger teens are capable of committing atrocious acts.
we very rarely seek to transfer 14- or 15-year-olds to adult court,”
Fleming said in an e-mail, “in extreme cases it can be appropriate.
The reality is 14- and 15-year-olds can commit horrific crimes.”
convicted in Juvenile Court, the boy in question could be
incarcerated until he is 25. A murder conviction in adult court means
a sentence of up to life.
“In some cases the release of those people at age 25 … will harm public safety and not serve justice,” Fleming said. “I might add that the current process of transferring juveniles to adult court requires a judge’s determination, made after careful evaluation of many factors related to the age and circumstances of the juvenile offender.”
A recent example was the case of Joe Daniel Olivo III, who had just turned 17 when he stabbed 14-year-old Jesus Romero Garcia to death in a Eureka apartment. Judge John Feeney ruled Olivo III must be tried in adult court, but only after listening to several days of testimony.
The 15-year-old boy and his mother, Lorna Jean Leen, are accused of murdering Brocious, who left behind a large, grieving family. Family members and friends of Brandon’s have been attending court hearings for Leen, the boy’s mother, wearing “Justice for Brandon” T-shirts. Recently his stepfather David Jacobs wore a locket containing some of Brandon’s ashes.
His mother, Cyanne Brocious, expressed her feelings on Facebook: “Jerry Brown you’ve done it again!” she posted after Brown signed the law. “My son was stabbed in the chest by a 15-year-old while his mother watched and prevented Brandon from getting help. Oh, it’s okay though because he’s only 15.
“How about you invite these heartless murderers to live in your grandchild’s community when they get out of jail? Do you think they will be rehabilitated? Do you feel safe? What kind of message are you giving the younger generations? ‘Kids will be kids.’
“Make sure to spread the word — rape, molest and murder before you turn 16, silly kids.”
Eureka police arrested Leen and her son at a homeless camp just a few hours after the killing. In fact, Brocious’ family believes he became acquainted with the two because he often delivered home-baked sourdough bread to the needy.
Leen is represented by the Public Defender’s Office and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Nov. 7. Her son is represented by court-appointed attorney Christina Allbright.
Although Allbright can’t comment on this specific case, she welcomes the new law.
“I think that the law is great and long overdue because it recognizes the developmental differences in juveniles, and that we should not be imposing adult consequences when the brain is not fully formed,” Allbright said. “I also think that we over-incarcerate in general, and should spend more resources on rehabilitation. We focus on punishment and are inhumane in our treatment of all prisoners, but especially juveniles.”
She added, however, that the law “doesn’t diminish the tragedy or the loss to the families of victims. The law recognizes evolving science and reduces the negative effects on the offenders, their families, and society as a whole.”
- Coroner’s Office Identifies 16-Year-Old Eureka Teen Stabbed to Death in Ocean View Cemetery
- Eureka Mother, Son Plead Not Guilty to Murder of Teenager at Ocean View Cemetery Last Week
- Woman Accused in Murder of Eureka Teenager Assigned Public Defender; Next Hearing Set for September
- As Defense Attorney Pleads for More Time, Family of Slain Teen Flood Courtroom in ‘Justice for Brandon’ Shirts
- OBITUARY: Brandon J. Brocious
- Slain Eureka Teen Remembered by Stepfather as Suspects’ Hearings Proceed