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Diagnosed with a low IQ and mild to moderate mental retardation, Shawn Brazeal’s greatest desire was “to be perceived as normal,” his attorney said today in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.
And as such, he sought out a girlfriend and aided in the stabbing death of her husband, Ronnie Wingate said.
Brazeal, 22, was sentenced today to 15 years in prison after pleading no contest in October to involuntary manslaughter, obstructing justice, and tampering with evidence. Judge Gene Zmuda imposed the sentence that was negotiated as part of Brazeal’s plea.
Judge Zmuda noted that Brazeal’s background and mental health would not affect the sentence imposed. But it is germane to why a plea was entered and negotiated sentence accepted, he said.
“My function in an agreed-upon sentence is to determine if this agreement is appropriate for community,” Judge Zmuda said. “You participated in ending someone’s life. You didn’t just allow it to happen, you participated in killing another human being.
“…But the consequence of not accepting this plea is that justice would not be reached at all,” he added.
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, 21. She is scheduled to go to trial March 4.
As part of the negotiations, Brazeal agreed to cooperate with authorities in Ms. McGuire’s prosecution.
At Brazeal’s plea, authorities 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.
During an interview with investigators, Brazeal admitted that he held Mr. McGuire as Mrs. McGuire stabbed him repeatedly, authorities said. The couple then attempted to clean up the scene and brought Mr. McGuire’s body to the ditch where he was left.
The knife was later recovered by the dive team in Maumee Bay after Brazeal identified the area where it was thrown.
Brazeal said little during his sentencing hearing, only that he was sorry for his actions. Mr. McGurire’s family was not in court.
Mr. Wingate said today that he feared Brazeal might “fall through the cracks of the legal justice system.” Although it was determined Brazeal had a very low level of intelligence, Mr. Wingate said he was evaluated to be competent to stand trial.
“He is in this in-between stage,” Mr. Wingate said.
As part of the plea agreement, Brazeal can file a motion for judicial release after serving seven years in prison with no objection from the prosecutor’s office.
Contact Erica Blake at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.