A Eureka teen who admitted last month to killing 16-year-old Brandon Brocious now wants to take back his plea to voluntary manslaughter.
Attorney Christina Allbright, representing Christopher Craft-Sterling, has filed a motion requesting Craft-Sterling be allowed to withdraw his admission to the crime, and also to have another defense attorney appointed to review the case.
“Mr. Craft doesn’t believe he was properly advised,” Allbright told Judge John Feeney during a Juvenile Court hearing this afternoon. Today had been scheduled for Craft’s sentencing, with a maximum term of 12 years.
It was Judge Christopher Wilson who accepted Craft’s plea on July 16. Feeney said he has spoken with Wilson, and both agree it should be Wilson who rules on whether the plea can be withdrawn.
Deputy District Attorney Jessica Watson, prosecuting the case, objected to the teen being allowed to take back his admission.
“He made that admission knowingly, willingly and voluntarily,” Watson told the judge. Allbright said she filed the motion “to protect Mr. Craft’s rights.”
Feeney ordered that a transcript be made of the July hearing. He agreed to appointing another attorney to look into the matter, and it’s expected the new lawyer will be appointed tomorrow morning.
Both Craft-Sterling and his mother, Lorna Jean Leen, were originally charged with murdering Brocious, who was stabbed to death in August 2018 at Oceanview Cemetery. Charges against Leen were dismissed at her preliminary hearing, which is unusual given the low standard used at those hearings.
During the preliminary, the sole witness to the stabbing testified she saw Craft-Sterling, her former boyfriend, stab Brocious, her current boyfriend. But police officers testified it was pitch-dark in the cemetery, and the teenage witness was up to 90 feet from where the knifing occurred.
At the July hearing when Craft-Sterling admitted his guilt, his mother left the courtroom yelling “I wouldn’t do it Chris! I wouldn’t do it!”
As with each hearing in the year-long case, Brocious’ family members and friends were in the courtroom audience. Many of them wear “Justice for Brandon” T-shirts.
“No satisfaction,” Brocious’ father Chip Brocious said after today’s hearing. “We thought this was going to be the end of it, and it’s just another continuance and wait and see.”
Chip Brocious said there is still hope the motion will be denied.
“We’ll just have to wait and see.”
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