KINGMAN - Superior Court Judge Steven Conn handed Veronica Bravo, 17, of Kingman a sentence of 21 years in prison on Thursday following a plea agreement Bravo had endorsed earlier.
Bravo was previously charged with a first-degree murder, but the plea offer allowed her to plead guilty to an attempted first-degree murder charge, a dangerous Class 2 felony. In return, Bravo had testified at the trial of convicted murderer Ray Carlton on Sept. 27.
As a key witness and co-defendant, Bravo told the court that she stabbed Kingman resident Christina Buus, 19, several times before Carlton, 24, also of Kingman, shot Buus in the face, killing her last July. She admitted that they used methamphetamines before committing the crime.
Deputy County Attorney Lee Jantzen told the court that Bravo should pay the price for her heinous actions in the crime, but her cooperation with the state did help bring the truth out. "She did the right thing in the past week," Jantzen said.
The attempted first-degree murder is 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.
Jantzen said the state made it clear in the agreement that Bravo would serve the maximum punishment. "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," Jantzen said.
Bravo spoke to Buus' family in court under the judge's consent. She repeatedly told them "I'm so sorry," through tears. Jantzen read several letters from Buss' family members concerning the family's suffering since the murder. Buss' mother later stepped up close to the defendant's table and read her statement directly to Bravo. She said she thought the plea agreement was not a fair deal and that Bravo testifying against her co-defendant should not have reduced the punishment she deserved.
"You probably think I'm angry, and you are damn right I'm angry. I don't have Christina to talk to. … I cannot watch her eyes in her wedding or have grandchildren around. … I will never have Christina to tell me 'good night, Mom, see you in the morning,'" Buss' mother said.
She said that she has never felt so empty and nothing would make her laugh again. She said her life had forever changed because of the death of her daughter.
"I hope, Veronica, Christina's so-called friend, would never forget how Christina begged for her life, (and) I hope Christina's voice would stay in Veronica's mind forever," Buss' mother said.
One of Bravo's family members told the Miner that they support Bravo and hope she can still lead a good life after serving her prison time.