Shawn Brazeal, left, charged in the death of his girlfriend’s husband, confers with attorney Ronnie Wingate during Brazeal's appearance in front of Judge Gene Zmuda in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. A plea deal accepted by the judge means Brazeal will be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
THE BLADE/LORI KING
An Oregon man who assisted his girlfriend in the stabbing death of her husband entered a plea in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Monday that included a 15-year prison sentence.
Shawn Brazeal, 22, pleaded no contest Monday to one count each of involuntary manslaughter, obstructing justice, and tampering with evidence. Although the charges can be punishable by up to 17 years in prison, Judge Gene Zmuda accepted the negotiated sentence and set a Nov. 7 sentencing date.
Brazeal was found guilty for his involvement in the Aug. 17, 2011, death of Devin McGuire, 35, of Oregon. Mr. McGuire’s body was found nearly two weeks later in a ditch by bicyclists. He had been stabbed multiple times.
Charged with aggravated murder and murder in the case is Mr. McGuire’s wife, Jennelle. She is slated to appear in court Nov. 7.
Assistant County Prosecutor Mark Herr noted that Brazeal initially had faced murder charges but that a negotiated plea was worked out in exchange for his cooperation in the case against Mrs. McGuire, 21.
“We feel this [plea agreement] would be appropriate and useful in the continued prosecution of the co-defendant Jennelle McGuire,” Mr. Herr said. He added that as part of the agreement and in exchange for Brazeal’s truthful testimony, the state would not object to judicial release for Brazeal after he had served at least seven years in prison.
Brazeal, who said little during the plea hearing, signed a plea agreement in court saying that he would testify truthfully in his co-defendant’s case. The agreement was placed under seal by Judge Zmuda.
Mr. Herr said that a couple visiting South Shore Park in Oregon – just blocks from the McGuire’s Plympton Circle residence – found the body of a then-unknown white man beneath a small overpass lying face-down in more than two feet of water. Using tattoos on the man’s body, authorities were ultimately able to identify him as Mr. McGuire, Mr. Herr said.
Authorities became suspicious of Mrs. McGuire after they received “no response” from her when informing her that they believed they had found her husband dead, Mr. Herr said. Brazeal was also interviewed after authorities learned he had been Mrs. McGuire’s boyfriend, he said.
“He told authorities that [Mr. McGuire] had left town and moved to Tennessee,” Mr. Herr said of Brazeal’s interview. “After being shown a photo [of the victim], this defendant broke down and told investigators, ‘I think she killed him.’”
Mr. Herr said that Brazeal then admitted that he held Mr. McGuire as Mrs. McGuire “stabbed him repeatedly.” The couple then attempted to clean up the scene and brought Mr. McGuire’s body to the ditch where he was left, Mr. Herr said.
The knife, Mr. Herr added, was recovered by the dive team in Maumee Bay after Brazeal identified the area in which it was thrown.
Brazeal’s attorney, Ronnie Wingate, declined to comment after the plea. Prior to the plea, Mr. Wingate had requested Brazeal undergo a competency evaluation to determine both if his client was able to competently waive his Miranda rights as well as be able to assist in his defense.
Brazeal was found competent to stand trial.
Members of Mr. McGuire’s family said they intend to return to Brazeal’s sentencing where they will make a statement.
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