Brady Sentenced for ’09 Home Invasion
/ Jan. 21, 2011 10:38am EST
He was a bipolar teenager from Randolph being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, after his father was fatally stabbed in a hostage situation in 2002, and his best friend died in his arms following a high-speed crash three years later.
When Mikel Brady turned 18, however, his medical insurance expired and the medications he’d been treated with stopped as abruptly as the money.
It didn’t take him long to find his own source of drugs—and alcohol—and a group of friends who accompanied him on a two-year crime spree, that police believe included more than 100 burglaries. Crimes included burglaries at McDonalds and the Randolph Town Garage, and the alarming theft of enough dynamite from the Rock of Ages quarry in Bethel in August 2008, that it trigged a federal anti-terrorism investigation.
When the whole thing came crashing down and police were closing in, Mikel Brady and his best friend and partner in crime, Josh Hill, fled with their girlfriends to Mexico, only to be caught and extradited back to Vermont in chains.
All of that would be bad enough but it is the July 2009 home invasion at the Babcock residence in South Royalton—which occurred a few months before the flight to Mexico—that stands out as the single-most dangerous episode of the whole sorry affair.
Janet Babcock, a former attorney who suffered from a traumatic brain injury and who used to medical marijuana as a means of alleviating her pain, was reading at home one evening when Brady and Hill, wearing black ski masks, smashed their way through a plate glass door with ball bats. Screaming, they demanded the cash they thought Babcock’s teenage son had from growing and selling pot.
Babcock would later tell the court that what she remembered most vividly, in those terror-filled minutes, was how young Brady looked and how he had "the most perfect-shaped lips." They, and his eyes, were all of him that she could see through the ski mask.
And it was those eyes that grabbed her attention as he methodically pulled a knife across her arm five times, leaving trails of blood, as he insisted she give him the money that she insisted she didn’t know anything about.
"I kept thinking, ‘Why is this young a person doing this?’ And each time he cut me, it was deeper," Babcock recalled, adding, "I’d never seen someone take pleasure in hurting someone before."
Against that backdrop, it’s all the more remarkable that Babcock is among those supporting Brady’s release back into the community sooner rather than later.
The Royalton woman told the court during a hearing in mid-December that she has forgiven Brady, but worried that he would re-offend if he only did "dead time," sitting in various federal and local jails instead of participating in counseling and therapy.
"I don’t want to see Mr. Brady locked up forever," Babcock told Judge Patricia Zimmerman, at that hearing. "But I’m really, really afraid (he’s) going to hurt someone again, unless he’s had all the right and appropriate treatment ... to address his deep-rooted disregard for human life."
Brady is already serving federal time for the explosives theft and has been sentenced to a concurrent one-to-three year term for the Orange County break-ins. However, in recent hearings in the home invasion case, Brady’s defense attorney, Eric Louttit, and the Windsor County prosecutors arrayed against him, have all singled Brady out of the pack of burglars as a special case worthy of separate consideration.
"He comes to us as a changed man, your honor," Atty. Louttit said at December’s hearing. "He has changed his life completely, and he is well regarded in the correctional facility, where he has received his high school diploma and glowing reviews from all the correctional officers and his bosses in the kitchen."
Louttit stressed that Brady had already quit drinking "cold turkey" in the weeks before police moved in to arrest him. Brady had broken ties with his criminal associates and gotten a full-time job, the defense attorney added.
At the December hearing in Windsor Superior Court, Brady apologized directly to Babcock in the courtroom and then turned to Judge Zimmerman and said it was precisely because of his participation in the harrowing home invasion that he had decided to try to change his ways, even before he was caught.
"At the time, drugs had a grip on me," Brady told the court, "Sometimes you need a traumatic experience to say ‘No’ to drugs … Unfortunately I can’t take back the past. God knows, I would if I could."
"I know forgiveness is very hard to come by," Brady continued. "I had to forgive a guy who took my father away from me, which was very hard, so I know a little something about forgiveness—I will try hard to stay on the right road."
Mikel Brady Sr. was 35 when he was fatally stabbed in the Connecticut home of his uncle, where he was temporarily living and working. His assailant, who also murdered the uncle, was the ex-boyfriend of his cousin. Mikel Brady II was 12 at the time.
The sentencing agreement that was hammered out this Tuesday in White River Junction calls for Brady to serve a concurrent 28-month-to-10-year sentence for the home invasion, and to be placed on furlough, rather than probation status, when he is released as early as March of 2012.
That distinction will make it easier for the Department of Corrections to yank Brady off the street if he were to violate the terms of his release, Zimmerman noted.
The plea deal also comes with a recommendation from the judge that upon his release, Brady be enrolled in Correction’s "Cognitive Self-Change Program" in order to try and expand his toolbox of real world coping skills.
Judge Zimmerman also made it clear Tuesday that Brady was getting what could easily be seen as a remarkably good deal from the criminal justice system. The sentence she was meting out was due not so much to his young age, Zimmerman told Brady, but to Windsor County Deputy State’s Attorney Heidi Remick’s assessment that Brady was working to reverse his direction "to a degree that is unusual and deserving of consideration."
"Drug addiction is a life-long disability," Zimmerman said to Brady from the bench. "You are young enough to start your life over [but at the same time] it is hard to imagine anything more horrific than this (home invasion).
"I can probably count the cases where I see these kinds of facts on one hand: (Ms. Babcock) was hit over the head two or three times, her teeth were chipped and her wrist was broken, and she and her son started to be duct-taped together and she thought they were going to die," Zimmerman recounted, adding, "I can’t imagine what that was like."
"There needs to be a real message … that this kind of behavior just cannot be tolerated in a civilized society," Zimmerman said before she imposed the sentence. "I wish you luck Mr. Brady," Judge Zimmerman said in her final words to the defendant. "You have a lot of work ahead of you and I hope you don’t find yourself back in a court in this situation again."
"I won’t," Brady replied.