9 On Your Side Investigates: Last attempt to keep a killer behind bars
Reporter: Ian Reitz
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It's been almost twenty years since a brutal crime rocked the small community of Elfrida, Arizona. Two teenage girls, Mandy Meyers and Mary Snyder, were brutally raped, beaten and murdered. Their bodies were then thrown down an abandoned mine shaft.
Richard Stokley and Randy Brazeal were both arrested. Stokley was convicted on both sexual assault and murder charges and received the death penalty. Brazeal plead guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 20-years in prison. DNA evidence that tied Brazeal to the crime was never used because the case did not go to trial. Subsequently, he was never convicted of a sex crime. Brazeal is scheduled for release from prison on July 2, 2011.
During our initial investigation in November of 2009 Cochise County Attorney Ed Rheinheimer told 9 On Your Side that Brazeal would serve the full term of his 20-year sentence and then be released from prison. But 9 On Your Side learned that Brazeal's release was not be guaranteed.
Because Brazeal's crime was sexually motivated, the Arizona Department of Corrections told 9 On Your Side he is eligible for an evaluation to determine if he is still considered a sexually violent predator, or SVP. The Department of Corrections has the authority to order the evaluation under Arizona Revised Statute 36-3702 (B). If the Arizona Department of Correction determines Brazeal may still pose a threat, a second, and very lengthy evaluation, would be ordered.
The second evaluation would take place in Phoenix at the Arizona State Hospital. If during that evaluation Brazeal is found to be a risk, the question over his future would head to court where a jury would decided whether or not to have him civilly committed.
9 On Your Side Investigator Ian Reitz has learned that the evaluation was requested by the Cochise County Attorney's Office in April 2011. County Attorney Ed Rheinheimer told 9 On Your Side that Brazeal refused to take part in the process. His refusal means that the initial evaluation will be completed based solely on his case and his record. But that is no guarantee that he will be found to pose a risk.
"It's not automatically enough to determine that someone continues to be a sexually violent person just because they committed a sexually violent act at some point in the past," said Rheinheimer.
If it does reach a point where Brazeal's civil commitment is in question, the evidence collected at the scene of the crime in 1991 and never used could come into play.
"It would be nice to know that we can now use that evidence that we couldn't use 20-years ago," said Rheinheimer. "But, at the same time it reminds us that we couldn't use that evidence 20 years ago, that we believe would have caused a different out come in this case."
As for Hancock, she is trying to still find peace almost two decades after the brutal murder of her then 13-year old daughter. "I'm at peace, for whatever peace I'm going to get out of this. You wonder, where would she be? How many kids would she have? I think about what she would have looked like. I'll never know, but he gets to go and walk the streets?"