Brady, his mother testify in sentencing phase

By on October 22, 2019

Mikel Edward Brady. (Photo by Philip S. Ruckle Jr.)

Tina Brady, a woman in her mid-forties with long, curly brown hair, took the stand on Tuesday, Oct. 22 in the Dare County Courthouse and laid down, over the course of two hours of testimony, the story of her son, Mikel Edward Brady, Jr., as she knew it.

Brady was found guilty on Oct. 21 of the murder of four prison employees at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution during what was the deadliest prison escape attempt in North Carolina history.

The 12-person jury must now decide whether Brady will receive life in prison without the possibility of parole, or death by lethal injection. State law mandates that the jury must agree on the death penalty unanimously; if even one juror opposes death, the judge will declare a hung jury and a life sentence will be imposed.

Tina Brady. (Photo by Philip S Ruckle Jr.)

Tina Brady did not plead for her son’s life in court on Tuesday. She did not ask the jury to spare him. She simply related, through anecdotes and memories, the story of her son’s life — presenting it as a tale of unrelenting hardship.

Tina Brady was 16 when her son was born in 1989 in Randolph, Vermont, a small community of some 4,500 residents surrounded by farms. Her son’s father, Mikel Sr., she said, was consistently abusive of both her and the children — physically, emotionally, and sexually.

When Mikel Jr. was still a toddler, his father, frustrated by his son’s messiness, took everything out of the child’s room except a mattress and a blanket, and attached a slide lock to the door, bolting him in. Mikel Jr. soon learned how to escape from his room, through a hole in the closet wall. But when he did so, he would get beaten by his father.

Tina Brady described her son’s problems at school and how social services threatened to take him away. Disobeying her husband’s wishes that their son not be sent to counseling, she took him to the local Clara Martin Center, a state-run facility in the area. (Mikel Sr. was murdered in 2002.)

It would be the beginning of a long relationship between Mikel Jr. and the Center. Over the years, he would be assessed for various mental conditions and illnesses, including ADHD, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, to name a few.

Despite being what his mother described as “nearly a straight-A student,” Mikel Jr. dropped out of high school after the eleventh grade. He began working a string of entry-level jobs over the course of the next four or five years, including as a farm hand, in a bottling plant and at a butcher shop.

After committing a string of crimes, among them home invasion and theft, Mikel Jr. was arrested in 2009 and ended up serving thirty-two months in prison. He was released in 2012 with an ankle bracelet, but soon broke parole and ran off. His mother did not hear word of him until one day, turning on the news, she saw there was a manhunt underway for her son in North Carolina, where he was accused of shooting a state trooper. After that, she saw her son only once.

Brady took the stand himself on Tuesday, clad in a dark brown shirt and looking younger than his 30 years.

“I was always afraid of death…I was chasing death,” he recalled. “Anything to get my blood moving, so I would know I was alive.”

He often wasn’t able to control himself, or didn’t understand the difference between right and wrong, like the time he tried to rip his sister Elizabeth’s clothes off and molest her, an act which got him sent to a mental health facility and put back on medication.

Eventually, he found himself in Durham with his girlfriend at the time. A few weeks after arriving in the city, he shot a state trooper five times after being pulled over for not wearing his seatbelt. He was caught the next day, and eventually sentenced in federal court to 40 years for attempted first-degree murder.

Brady eventually landed in Pasquotank Correctional. He got a job in the prison’s sewing plant.  Brady said he wanted to escape from prison “the moment they sentenced me to forty years,” but it was only in 2016 that “it started to sink into my mind: ‘I gotta get outta here.’”

He said he started noticing things: how the freight elevator operated, where the blind spots were on the prison’s cameras. Initially he didn’t trust other inmates to share in his escape plan, but eventually enlisted Seth Frazier, Wisezah Buckman, and Jonathan Monk, the three other men charged with the murders.

Brady himself made the “go-bags” used in the escape attempt, homemade backpacks fashioned out of the same materials used by inmates to make highway safety vests in the sewing plant. He also built homemade “spears” out of broom handles and pieces of metal shelving.

Then Oct. 12 came around. Already several hours into his testimony, Brady painstakingly went through his entire thought process during the attack. He rehashed the events in gruesome detail as he described the violent killings of prison workers Veronica Darden, Justin Smith, Wendy Shannon and Geoffrey Howe. 

Brady hit George Midgette, another correctional officer, with a hammer multiple times until another maintenance man walked in on the scene. Midgette survived, and was sitting in court as Brady described the attack against him.

After the attacks, Brady and the others were making a run for the fences with officers giving chase. Brady said managed to scale multiple fences— as the other inmates were getting caught — until he was finally intercepted.

“I had two options for what I wanted that day. Either I escape, and I get my freedom, or they kill me, and I still get my freedom,” Brady said, eliciting muted gasps from courtroom spectators.

Brady said that when he was captured, he held his hands out in front of an officer with a shotgun and said, “Aim for the chest and pull the trigger.” The man shot, but missed, he added.

“I was so disappointed that he missed me,” Brady said, ruefully. “When I saw they weren’t going to kill me, that’s when I gave myself in.”

The sentencing phase of the trial will reconvene tomorrow with the state’s cross-examination of Brady.

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Comments

  • hightider

    Read about his earlier convictions in VT newspapers. His sister testified she is not afraid of him – of course not – because he is locked up! The VT news reported that as an uncontrollable child he blinded his sister in one eye with a knife. VT should have given him 20 years for over 100 burglaries. In one home invasion, he cut a disabled woman with a knife to steal the legal medical marijuana she had for her illness. I hope there is a unanimous verdict to give him the penalty he deserves. If he had wanted to die so badly, he should have committed suicide. His mother’s poor judgment in raising him should be a warning to teens who have sex without birth control. His father and uncle were also criminals who fortunately were murdered in the commission of a crime. Mikel Brady may not have asked to be born, but four good people did not ask to be murdered in the most atrocious way while doing their jobs.

    Wednesday, Oct 23 @ 11:05 am
  • Sean

    One word… DONE

    Wednesday, Oct 23 @ 9:51 pm
  • Sean

    Really? Done

    Thursday, Oct 24 @ 5:49 am
  • Travis

    As bad as his upbringing was, there are (sadly) a thousand other stories like his and guess what? Those victims of terrible childhoods didn’t go on to kill four people. Those unfortunates with the alphabet soup of psychological conditions didn’t all go on to lead a life of crime. Some of them just get by and some turned out to be decent folks.

    I sure hope we’ll get as deep a look at the lives of those he murdered. You know, balance out that compassion a little.

    Thursday, Oct 24 @ 9:30 am
  • Sand Flea

    I’m sure it was always the teachers fault and never poor Mikel’s or Tina’s. Maybe he didn’t get enough trophies growing up.

    Thursday, Oct 24 @ 11:21 am
  • hightider

    Please let the jury unanamously vote for the death penalty. It was better law when a majority could make the recommendation as evidenced by the liberal cry baby holdout who would not vote for death for James Holmes the mass murderer at The Dark Knight Rises movie. I hope there is no one like this on the Brady jury who will be swayed by the pity party presented by the defense. The real pity is that there is even a trial at all – if the guards had killed all four of these wastes of humanity, it would have been a public service. And as far as some psychiatrist alleging that Brady was not given his medication in prison – he refused, by his own admission, to take it when he was free.

    Saturday, Oct 26 @ 6:25 am
  • Forbes Kennedy

    Funny how his mother related these stories yet, when the father was killed in 2002, the news accounts quoted the mother as lauding the dead father, how wonderful he was and how much of a loss his death would be to the family. Which was it ma’am?

    Saturday, Oct 26 @ 7:31 pm
  • Sean

    Enough execute them all they are ( in prison ) murderers. Get it over with so it won’t cost us as much to maintain them in prison better yet hang them in the prison yard so everyone can see sounds harsh? Wasnt what they did harsh I’m tired of seeing these losers in the news

    Tuesday, Oct 29 @ 8:34 pm
  • Colleen

    I was his neighbor! When he was a teenager, he and his friends we speed multiple times around our cul-de-sac as fast as they could. His reasoning was to piss off our neighbor. I almost went out one night to tell him to slow the hell down! My kids could be hurt. Something told me not to. Looks like that was the best decision I had ever made.
    I knew he was a troubled kid but I never thought he would go this far. When reading the moms testimony it’s clear that our VT mental health system completely failed him.

    He should have been under lock and key from the time he started messing with his sister. He needed extreme in-house therapy. His mother continued to enable his actions throughout his life. She would coddle him and actually hide him from the authorities! It doesn’t surprise me that she didn’t ask to spare his life. I think her actions throughout his upbringing says it all. Not only did the healthcare system fail him but his mother also failed him.

    What mother would allow her husband to lock their child in a room with only a mattress and a blanket? Fear of her husband? My opinion is that most mothers would go to the end of the earth to protect their kids. That’s what Mikel learned. He grew up with hate, and brutality. It’s clear he is a psychopath with a disconnected, dysfunctional family. The fact that he brought a girlfriend with him was more than frightening! I don’t know for a fact but, I thought she was also pregnant. I do not know what became of her after he was institutionalized, but I hope for her sake she has received the mental and social help she most likely needs.

    To be clear in no way do I nor would I ever support him or feel sorry for him. I feel thankful that he doesn’t have to live this life that he has had, and thankful that he is getting what is deserved for doing what he did.

    I also hope is mother gets the mental help she needs.

    Friday, Nov 1 @ 1:15 pm