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Bravo admits stabbing 19-year-old

17-year-old accepts plea agreement in murder of local teen Christina Buus

KINGMAN - Veronica Bravo, 17, of Kingman accepted a plea agreement Monday and pled guilty to attempted first-degree murder, a Class 2 felony. She was originally charged with first-degree murder.

She admitted that she stabbed Christina Buus, 19, several times before Ray Carlton, 23, also of Kingman, allegedly shot Buus in the head last summer. She admitted to using methamphetamine at the time of the crime. Though a Class 2 felony is only punishable with a presumptive term of imprisonment of 10-1/2 years, which the court may increase to 21 years or decrease to seven years, the plea agreement made it clear Bravo would receive a sentence of 21 years in prison without the possibility of probation.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steven Conn reminded Bravo several times during a jury trial management hearing that she has the right to ask for two separate trials for her first-degree murder and methamphetamine use charges.

If the state fails to prove Bravo used methamphetamine while committing the crime, she might have the opportunity to get probation after serving a certain number of years of her jail time, Conn said.

Bravo told the judge she had talked to her attorney about the details of the plea agreement, and she decided to take it.

As a condition of the plea agreement offer, Bravo agreed to waive her right to remain silent and testify against Carlton.

Bravo, Carlton and Buus were in the same vehicle driving southbound to Kingman on U.S. Highway 93 at the time of the crime on July 18, 2005.

"The reason we offer her the deal is to get her significant punishment, not to downplay her involvement in the case, while having her available to testify," Deputy County Attorney Jantzen said.

If Bravo had chosen to go to trial, the punishment for conviction of first-degree murder would either have been life in prison or life in prison with guaranteed 25 years jail time. Neither punishment would be favorable compared with the offer of 21 years in prison, Jantzen said.

Jantzen talked to the victim's family members briefly after the hearing. He said they were unhappy with the punishment but understood the agreement conditions would help the state prosecute Carlton.

The final sentencing of Bravo was scheduled for Sept. 29, three days after Carlton starts his jury trial. Carlton has been charged with first-degree murder and will either face life in prison or life in prison with guaranteed 25 years jail time. Jantzen said the state would not seek the death penalty against Carlton.