UPDATE: Adam Braseel now a free man after reaching plea agreement
UPDATE: The courtroom erupted when Grundy County Judge Justin Angel announced that Adam Braseel is a free man.
Adam Braseel pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault in best interest, which means he does not admit guilt, only that the plea is in his best interest.
"It's essentially a situation where you say I don't agree that I did these things, I don't agree that you have the facts right, but I understand that you would present evidence to suggest that I did these things, and that evidence might be enough to convict me," explained Alex Little.
He said now it's over.
"So everything that happened the first trial has been taken away and the result was that he was going to plead guilty in best interest to one charge, he wasn't going to plead guilty to anything but the facts because they weren't true but I would not have let him admit to those facts that weren't true. But a best interest deal means you take in in your best interest," said Little.
Braseel's sister Christina Braseel was overwhelmed that her brother is coming home.
"So here I am in front of you telling you finally that my brother's coming home. He's going to be able to spend time with his momma, we weren't even sure if he was going to make it, but she's Adam strong, mom stronger, and God strongest," said Christina.
And before Adam Braseel left the courtroom he told his family, his supporters he loves them.
"I'll see you soon, I love you all," said Braseel.
Christina explained that Adam, had to do what he had to do.
"It was hard because he knew if we proceeded on and not taken this plea offer, he could be out for ten months and then go back in like he did last time," said Christina.
The aggravated assault charge came from the 2006 assault of Becky Hill, the sister of the man Braseel was convicted of murdering in 2007.
He's since had his conviction overturned, and then that ruling was reversed.
Braseel's attorney Alex Little said the two hours spent negotiating were the hardest of his life.
"There's a man that if I screw up he's going to be in jail the rest of his life," said Little. "You can imagine there are really really hard choices when you believe and you know that you didn't commit a crime, and on the other side you have the keys to the jail in your hand, and that's what the offer was."
Christina said she was shocked when the judge read his decision.
"I don't know, and I heard everybody and I'm still kind of in shock," said Christina. "It's still surreal, I gotta go pick him up though, I gotta go pick him up."
But she said the fight isn't over yet.
"Well we are definitely going forward with this case, I mean I'm sure we're gonna... I don't even know what I can and can't say but I'm not stopping here with the DA's office they need to be held accountable," said Christina.
By pleading guilty to the aggravated assault charge, the state cannot retry Braseel.
Christina said that tonight they're grilling a cheeseburger per Adam's request.
PREVIOUS STORY: A deal has been reached in the retrial hearing for Adam Braseel.
Braseel agreed to a plea deal of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and waiving his right to a jury trial.
He also received credit for time served, which amounted to over ten years.
The news was met with cries and screams from those watching the proceedings, which were filled with friends and family.
Braseel was convicted in 2007 for the murder of Malcolm Burrows. He's since had his conviction overturned, and then that ruling was reversed.
PREVIOUS STORY: In 2007, Adam Braseel was convicted of murdering Malcolm Burrows and attacking Burrows’ sister in Grundy County.
Braseel has always maintained his innocence and got another chance at freedom on Wednesday.
This is the second time Braseel has petitioned the court for a new trial. The first time it was granted, and he was released from prison. However, the Court of Appeals overturned that decision and brought Braseel back into custody in 2015.
Now Braseel’s attorney, Alex Little, is confident they’ll get a retrial after presenting new key evidence. Little believes the evidence shows Adam Braseel is an innocent man.
“All along the evidence against Adam has been very, very weak,” Little said. “He’s maintained his innocence. I believe him. I think if people look at this objectively it’s hard to believe that a man like that for no reason at all would have done these things.”
Little is centering Braseel’s retrial petition on fingerprints from the scene that belong to a man named Kermit Bryson, who has since died.
“It’s unusual to have a case where you don’t have any forensic evidence linking your client to the crime, but there’s somebody else who is and that’s what started this whole piece of the case,” Little said.
Little’s petition says Bryson was a felon and killed a police officer and then himself in 2008.
The defense also called a witness who says shortly after the murder, Bryson admitted to her that he killed Burrows. Braseel’s sister, Christina, says she’s happy that witness came forward.
“I don’t care who you are, you just don’t come out and say something like that. I really respect them for coming out and saying that. For saying that Kermit Bryson told them he did it,” Braseel said.
The court also heard from former Sergeant Michael Brown, who responded to the scene of the crime in 2006. Brown has never testified in Braseel’s case before, and says he was never asked too.
Braseel’s sister says she’s disappointed the hearing didn’t end on Wednesday, but she’s still holding out hope that he’ll be free.
“He’s fine. He’s not going to let them get the best of him,” she said. “He’s not going to let them break his spirit.”
The hearing is set to continue on July 31. At the hearing, Little will be bringing a fingerprint expert and the state will also present witnesses.
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