Family: Sentence too light for teen’s homicide in Hamilton case that led to protests

A woman who admitted to shooting and killing a teenager in a Hamilton home in December was sentenced to prison Thursday in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

Aerial Brazzell, 22, was indicted by a grand jury for reckless homicide with a gun specification for the killing of Bennie Shaun Boggs Jr., 16, on Dec. 17, 2020. Boggs was shot at Brazzell’s residence in the 200 block of Cereal Avenue.

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Last month, Brazzell pleaded guilty to the third-degree felony, and the gun specification, which would’ve added more time to a sentence, was dismissed. She faced up to 36 months in prison, but her defense team argued she was a candidate for probation.

Judge Jennifer McElfresh sentenced Brazzell to 2½ years in prison.

Brazzell cried and shook during much of the hearing. She turned to Boggs’ family and read an apology letter while sobbing.

“This has completely destroyed me, and I know you are glad that it has,” Brazzell told the family. “I know all of you hate me. I hate myself.”

Brazzell said Boggs was a good person and was her friend.

“I didn’t mean for this to happen. I am sorry and most of all, I am sorry J.R. for taking you away from everyone,” Brazzell said while looking slightly upward.

Boggs’ family and friends protested outside the courthouse last month before Brazzell entered the plea for what they viewed as a lenient charge and punishment.

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Before sentencing, the family crowded into the courtroom and several offered emotional victim-impact statements.

Stephanie Gill Boggs, Boggs’ mother, said while crying: “This has destroyed my family. … I am never going to be happy again because she took my baby away. She took my happiness away.”

Gill Boggs said she believes Brazzell did not tell the truth about the the shooting.

Two family members pointed to social media posts and videos of Brazzell holding guns, one taken on the night Boggs was shot.

“It was no mistake. She is holding guns. She is used to having guns around, and she knew the implications,” said Kimberly Murphy, Boggs’ great aunt.

Brazzell’s attorney Kara Blackney said in a sentencing motion that Brazzell has no criminal background as an adult or a juvenile and has shown remorse by taking responsibility for her actions.

“Miss Brazzell’s entire life and future has changed due to this horrible accident. She has suffered from depression, anxiety, ADD (attention-deficit disorder) and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) for several years. The incident led to an aggravation of symptoms for which she is currently in therapy and taking medication,” Blackney wrote.

In a statement of facts from Assistant Prosecutor Jon Marshall, Boggs and Brazzell made plans via social media to socialize on the afternoon of Dec. 16. Photographs associated with the Boggs’ Facebook account show him already in possession of the Glock handgun with the green laser sighting.

Videos found on cellphones of people at the party showed Boggs with the Glock and Brazzell.

“The videos show the magazine is not in the firearm, and further shows people including the defendant pulling the trigger of the gun, with no gunshot resulting,” according to the statement of facts.

At 1:05 a.m. on Dec. 17 a cellphone video shows Boggs making the following statements: “I took the magazine out of my Glock. I don’t want to accidentally shoot it. There’s a bunch of kids in the house and I am drinking.”

Approximately 30 minutes later Brazzell came into the room, picked up the handgun and pulled the trigger, fatally wounding Boggs.

“In her statements to police, the defendant said she believed the gun was still unloaded, as it had been earlier. However, she also admitted she did not do anything to verify her belief the gun was unloaded,” the statement of facts states.

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