Killer asks for more prison time, says plea deal too lenient

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A man who killed a retired librarian when he was speeding away from police will spend more time behind bars after he told a judge that the plea deal offered by prosecutors was too lenient.

Friday afternoon, Joshua Brazeal, his family members and family members of the 79-year-old woman he killed pleaded for a harsher sentence.

In a rare move Wyandotte County Judge Bill Klapper rejected the 41-month deal offered by Wyandotte County prosecutors and increased Brazeal’s punishment to 78 months. Even rarer than that, Brazeal’s family and Geraldine Strader’s family comforted each other during Friday’s emotional sentencing.

Brazeal crashed a stolen car into Strader’s car on Aug. 19. The impact killed the well-known librarian and pillar in Kansas City, KS.

When her family got word he could possibly serve just more than three years in jail, they pleaded with the judge for more time. They weren’t the only ones. Joshua Brazeal and his sister, Laura Brazeal, also asked the judge to increase his punishment.

The crash on Aug. 19 of last year robbed a community of one of its beloved members.

Longtime Kansas City, KS, librarian Geraldine Strader was thrown from her car when Joshua Brazeal crashed into it while speeding to get away from police. Officers had tried to stop him, but he took off.

Family members say their memories of their matriarch are tainted. The grandmother was known for her large, beautiful eyes that sparkled. Family members couldn’t see her eyes the last time they saw her at the hospital.

“When she was brought in they had her eyes covered. I don’t remember the last time I saw them and that’s difficult,” Strader’s son-in-law John Brandt said.

They’re waiting for the day grief will release its grasp and they can focus on her legacy.

“I know that it will overwhelm the horrible images that we are left with, the absolute brutal condition her body was left in from such a violent crash,” Brandt said.

Even though the judge upped the punishment, it still wasn’t enough for the grieving family. They believe prosecutors could have filed more charges and had wrongly dropped some charges.

The victim’s daughter, Kathleen Brandt, was critical of the DA’s office.

“How in the world can a criminal with this kind of an impressive criminal record, how in the world can even he recognize there is nothing fair about this,” Geraldine’s daughter Kathleen Brandt said. “What I’m left with is our judicial system seems to be broken. How did an assistant DA analyze these charges, including all of the charges they chose not to bring forth, how did they analyze that and agree to a 41-month agreement in the first place?”

Brazeal and his sister agreed with the Brandts. They also asked the judge to give a harsher punishment.

“I knew it wasn’t right. I knew that Josh has been let off so easily. This had to stop. This had to end. I had to say something to get him the help he needs,” Laura Brazeal said. “What he did was wrong. He needs to face it like a man, stand up, and no longer be the victim. He is not a victim. Drug addicts are not victims they are users.”

The crash that should have divided two families instead brought them closer together. They all hope Joshua Brazeal makes drastic changes in his life.

“My mother would say put him away until he learns. I’m hoping those six and half years are long enough for him to learn,” Kathleen Brandt said.

Brazeal was on probation at the time of the crash so he also will have to serve time for his previous conviction for violating probation.

In court, the assistant district attorney said they reached the plea agreement to avoid putting the family through a lengthy trial. He also said they offered the agreement because Joshua Brazeal wanted to take responsibility for his actions.

By Emily Rittman