9OYS Investigates: Last attempt to keep a killer behind bars
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 in 1991. 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 pleaded 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 the 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 initial evaluation took place 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.
Late in our investigation we learned that on May 17th, 2011, the Arizona Department of Corrections sent a letter notifying the Cochise County Attorney's Office that the psychologist who made the initial evaluation did not find enough evidence to warrant a second evaluation. 9 On Your Side is looking into what legal step, if any, could be next.