'He stole my child'; Convicted killer's lighter sentence still plagues victim's family
By Maggie Vespa. CREATED Jul 24, 2014
COCHISE COUNTY (KGUN9-TV) - The decades-old case of an Arizona man who, legal experts admit, escaped the death penalty is back in the headlines. That's because he is back in jail, this time in Arkasas.
Randy Brazeal is one of two men convicted in the 1991 rape and murder of two Elfrida girls.
While his accomplice was put to death, Brazeal, despite damning DNA evidence, was not.
Instead, he was charged with 2nd degree murder.
When Patty Hancock heard Brazeal had been arrested again, she thought it was for "killing someone else's baby."
She told 9OYS via Skype she was releaved to learn he was charged with indecent exposure and urinating in public.
Still, Hancock says that relief won't bring back her little girl.
"He stole my child, and he murdered her, and he tortured her, and he raped her, and he stabbed her and he broke her bones and he left her there to die," she said.
They say time heals all wounds.
Unfortunately for Patty Hancock, time is the most painful part.
"Everybody says he did his time," she said. "No he did not do his time. He will never do enough time for me."
Enough, says Hancock, equates to death.
That is the sentence handed down to Richard Stokely for his part in the brutal kidnapping, rape, and murder of hancock's 13 year-old daughter Mandy and her friend Mary Snyder.
Brazeal's lesser charge and sentence came despite DNA evidence seemingly proving he had raped both girls, just like Stokely.
"And I am so ashamed of Cochise County for this because they let it happen," said Hancock.
So how did it happen?
"That was at the very beginning of the use of DNA evidence in criminal cases," said current Cochise County attorney Edward Reinheimer.
Reinheimer never worked the Brazeal case but says in 1991 DNA and the laws surrounding it were new and untested.
Brazeal's attorneys knew that.
They argued their client was entitled to a speedy trial and shouldn't have to wait for this new-fangled evidence to be processed, making the DNA inadmissable.
Reinheimer says it's a problem turned non-issue today.
"Now we have a specific rule which allows judges to extend the speedy trial deadline in those cases where there's scientific evidence that's waiting for analysis at the crime lab," he said.
That's a point that provides little comfort to Patty Hancock.
For the first time in 4 years knows where her daughter's killer is, but it won't last.
"Because that was my child he stole," she said. "You don't steal people's children. You don't do that and then get away with that."
Randy Brazeal is currently serving 70 days and paying $700 in fines for his crime in Arkansas.
Since he was never convicted of raping those girls, he is not registered as a sex offender.