Graphic details released in murder of Brandy Stevens of Beaver Township
MEADVILLE, Pennsylvania - A painful and emotional day in a Pennsylvania courtroom as gruesome details are revealed about how 20-year-old Brandy Stevens of Beaver Township was murdered.
Magistrate District Judge Michael Rossi has now bound the case over to the county court, determining that there is enough evidence to put the two women accused of killing Stevens on trial.
District Attorney Francis Shultz told reporters they will now have to decide on whether this is a death penalty case.
Pennsylvania State Police investigators say the Youngstown State student was lured to her death by her ex-girlfriend and another young woman, and then tortured and thrown in to a shallow grave.
And what was the motive for the crime; unresolved issues that developed during their relationship.
As court was set to begin, the proceedings were moved from the Magistrate's Office on Perry Highway to the Vernon Township Municipal Building across the street. The municipal building was better suited to handle the volume of people who were in attendance.
Shortly before the two women accused of the bizarre and brutal killing were escorted in to the hearing handcuffed and under tight security, the younger sister of the murder victim was overcome with emotion, and had to be comforted by her mother.
Brandy Stevens was a diabetic and was reported missing by her grandmother when she failed to return home on May 17th.
Six days later, the victim's ex-girlfriend 18-year-old Jade Olmstead was charged with the murder, along with Olmstead's new love interest, 20-year-old Ashley Barber.
Pennsylvania State Police found the victim's body buried in Cocharnton, Pennsylvania near Meadville. A cadaver dog led them to the scene located just yards away from where the two suspects lived.
Linda Ser, whose four daughters were all friends with the victim says, "This was the worst experience I had to go through in my life. Hearing the details. It's one thing to lose a child, but to lose a child in the manner that they took her life angers me. And I feel so bad for her mother and all those who loved her."
Amando Tondo, who worked with the victim in Boardman, had tears in her eyes. "It's shocking that somebody can do this to somebody that they supposedly loved."
A long-time close friend of the victim, Tera Haines says, "Brandy was the greatest person probably that I've ever known, and it shouldn't even be happening."
As investigators testified that an autopsy showed Stevens had blunt force trauma to the head, 15 lacerations to her scalp, a skull fracture and a rope around her neck, several of the victim's family members understandably left the courtroom in tears.
The coroner's report said there was evidence of suffocation and brown liquid in her nasal passages.
Pennsylvania State Trooper Phil Shaffer, with the Criminal Investigation Unit, testified that it is his understanding from the coroner's findings that the victim did not die from the rope around her neck, but suffocated from the dirt that entered her system.
Trooper Eric Mallory who investigated the case and interviewed the suspects says the two young women confessed to the planned and brutal attack on the victim saying they lured her to the wooded area where they dug the shallow grave. That's where they repeatedly beat her using a shovel at one point, and also using a rope in an attempt to strangle her.
Investigator Mallory says the women admitted that Stevens was still alive when she was placed in the grave. So they grabbed a large rock and threw it on the victim's face, and then poured water in her mouth and nose saying they saw it gurgle and then it stopped.
What's most haunting, the suspects told state police the victim screamed and begged for her life, and she even promised not to tell anyone if the two alleged killers would just let her go.
The suspects will be arraigned in Crawford County Court on August 24th and then the case will be set for trial.
Meanwhile, friends of the victim have set up an account with Huntington Bank, hoping to collect enough money to build a statue or some type of memorial for Brandy Stevens.
The victim was cremated so they hope to create something lasting in her memory.
Donations can be made to the Brandy Rosine Memorial Fund at any Huntington Bank location. There is also a link on Facebook to a Paypal account.