A 16-year-old Eureka boy has been sentenced to more than 10 years in a state youth facility for stabbing another Eureka teen to death during an altercation at Oceanview Cemetery.
This morning Judge Christopher Wilson sentenced Christopher Craft to 10 years, 10 months and four days, the maximum sentence for voluntary manslaughter minus the time Craft has served.
Craft admitted killing 16-year-old Brandon Brocious, who had befriended the homeless Craft and his mother, Lorna Jean Leen, but who ended up dead in a dispute over a cellphone.
“On Aug. 9, 2018, Christopher Craft stood over my son, Brandon Brocious, and stabbed him with a foot-long kitchen knife,” Brocious’s mother Cyanne Brocious told the judge before he imposed the sentence. Reading from a written statement, Cyanne said her family has suffered in many ways: their health, their careers, their social relationships.
“My children have nightmares,” the mother said. Her family not only grieves Brandon’s death, she said, but his hopes and dreams and the person he might have become. Many people “saw a light in Brandon,” she said. Her son believed he should do whatever he could to help others, and it was his willingness to do good that ultimately led to his death.
The family believes Brandon met Craft and Leen when he was taking home-baked bread to needy people around town. He also met Craft’s girlfriend “Jane Doe,” who became his girlfriend after breaking off with Craft. Initially both Craft and Leen were charged with murder, with Doe testifying Leen held her back while her son stabbed Brocious.
Charges against Leen were dismissed due to lack of evidence.
“Brandon was essentially killed because he was holding the defendant’s backpack,” Deputy District Attorney Jessica Watson told the judge. “And Brandon was trying to hand him the backpack.”
Watson said the best place for Craft is a Department of Juvenile Justice facility, where he will be offered high school and college classes, and much-needed courses in anger management and substance abuse.
“Victimizing people is something that he and his family don’t seem to be bothered by,” the prosecutor said.
Indeed, Brandon’s father Chip Brocious said after the sentencing, neither Leen nor Craft have shown “one iota of remorse.”
He said he appreciates the prosecutor’s work on the case, and the judge for imposing the maximum penalty.
“Back when there were two defendants I was hoping for a lot more,” the father said. “But now it’s good to know that Christopher will be getting a lot of evaluation and re-programming.”
Still, he said, “that lack of remorse is like a stink that always remains.”
Wilson, in imposing the sentence, said Brandon’s loss is significant “and I acknowledge that loss to his family.”
Some unrelated charges against Craft were dismissed, and Wilson said those charges are indication of the kind of life he’s had.
“Chris has had a difficult upbringing,” Wilson said. Some of the dismissed charges include possession of stolen vehicles — vehicles Craft was “nesting in.”
The judge said Craft has probably attended more school since he was arrested than he ever had before.
“Kids have an opportunity to change and they can change,” Wilson said.
Then he addressed Craft, sitting next to his attorney Christina Allbright and wearing a green Juvenile Hall sweatshirt.
“You should use that opportunity, use it in a fashion that honors Brandon as well.”
Allbright had asked for a lesser term, saying Craft was provoked. Also, she said, an open knife was found in Brocious’s pocket.
Craft could be evaluated for parole in four years. He cannot be held past his 25th birthday. In the Department of Juvenile Justice facility he will receive no additional “good time” credit.
In addition to the time in custody, Craft was ordered to pay fines and also restitution to Brandon Brocious’s survivors.
His mother asked for and received $1,659 for funeral expenses and 557 hours of unpaid leave. Family members have been to numerous court hearings since Brandon was killed.
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