Pasquotank inmate sentenced to death after 4 killed in 2017 escape attempt

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DARE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — A jury has sentenced a former Pasquotank inmate to death for his role in a 2017 escape attempt that took the lives of four prison employees.

The same jury convicted Mikel Brady, the self-proclaimed “pack leader” behind the 2017 attack.

Every jury member chose to sentence Brady to death. In North Carolina, if all jurors are not in unanimous agreement, the defendant is sentenced to life in prison.

Shortly after, the judge decided to accept the jury’s recommendation.

Brady is the first of four inmates facing charges in this case to go to trial.

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DARE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — On Wednesday, North Carolina prosecutors had the chance to question Mikel Brady about the deadly prison escape attempt.

Brady didn’t hold anything back.

“I’m up here to tell the truth,” Brady said. “You can ask me anything you want. I’m going to tell the truth whether it hurts me or it helps me. I don’t care about that.”

Brady says he a hand in each of the four Pasquotank Correctional employees who were killed in 2017.

“Sir, you don’t believe you are crazy do you,” asked Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Pellini. “No, I don’t think I’m crazy,” Brady answered.

”You do know the difference between right in wrong,” she asked.
“Yes,” Brady said.

“So you know murder is wrong,” Pellini asked. “Murder is a different name for death, but yes,” he answered.

Brady told the jury about his plan to escape, and the fact that no one was going to stand in his way.

“At the end of the day, escape versus these peoples’ lives, you chose escape?” Pellini asked

“Yes,” Brady answered.

“Your freedom meant more than their lives,” Pellini asked.

“Yes,” Brady said.

Brady says he beat Geoffrey Howe to death with a hammer and helped stabbed Justin Smith.  He also took out Wendy Shannon and Veronica Darden.

“I cared about Mrs. Darden,” Brady added. “She was a great woman and I’m not taking that away from her.”

Brady talked about this moment where he hit Officer George Midgett with a hammer.

“I hit him hard,” Brady said. “I don’t know if it was as hard as I could, but I did hit him hard. It was hard enough for him to go down with first hit.”

Midgett lived, but is permanently injured.

Brady compared himself to a hot water heater ready to blow at any minute.

“That’s how I am until some big event, whether it shooting a state trooper, whether trying to escape from prison, whether it is a serious fight, once that big event happens all the pressure is gone,” Brady added.

Brady told the court the escape plan was all his idea.

The 30-year-old says if he didn’t escape two years ago he wanted to be killed. Neither of them happened.

“Monday, Mr. Womble said it best,” Brady added. “He said you hunt as a pack you’re responsible for the kill. In this case you can pretty much call me pack leader.”

“I was trying to get every officer that responded to shoot me and none of them would,” Brady said.

The sentencing hearing could take several more days before the jury starts deliberating. The jury will decide if it is life in prison or the death penalty for Brady.

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DARE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — Mikel Brady spent two hours on the stand Tuesday afternoon and told the jury everything. He went step by step, talking about the escape attempt from conception to trying to carry out the plan.

Brady, who was convicted Tuesday of four counts of murder, said it was his idea to escape from the Pasquotank Correctional Institution.

He told the court he had been thinking about it ever since getting to prison in 2013.

The 30-year-old talked about his abuse as a child.

His mother testified he was sexually and physically abused by his father.

Brady said he was forced to take prescription medication as a teenager to help with his bipolar disorder.  

He said the medicine made him feel like a zombie and he fought taking pills.

He told the jury his criminal life started in his late teens with breaking into houses in Vermont.

“We would steal anything we could sell,” Brady said. “Sometimes it was stupid stuff like beer.”

Brady and a friend were eventually caught and charged with home invasion.

During the investigation, FBI agents charged him with possession of dynamite.

Brady says he stole the explosives from an area business.

He was sentenced on both state and federal charges and served almost two years behind bars.

When he got out he was still on bond. Brady told the court that’s when he and a friend when to jack some deer.

It is an illegal practice of shining light into the deer’s eyes at night, making it easy to shoot.

One night while out deer jacking, Brady shot what he thought was a real deer.

It turned out to be a mechanical deer step up by law enforcement.

Brady told the court he then went on the run, living for a bit in Maine and then with his sister for Alabama.

He and his girlfriend would eventually move to Durham, North Carolina.

Brady says just weeks after getting Durham, he was pulled over by a state trooper.

That’s when he shot the trooper five times.

He was arrested the next day.

In 2013, he began serving his sentence in Pasquotank.

He says he worked in the warehouse of the sewing room so he had access to hammers, scissors, and saws.

“I could go anywhere I wanted to go,” Brady said. “No questions asked.”

He admits the plan to escape was his idea. He told the jury he and the other three inmates began planning three months before October 12, which actually wasn’t supposed to be the day the escape attempt happened. It was supposed to be two weeks later, but he thought another inmate got wind of the plan and was going to turn them in.

Brady told the jury how he was able to make backpacks and pants from materials in the sewing room, and right in front of officers.

He said he made the spears out of supplies in the warehouse using a wooden broom and metal from shelving.

“I think the escape was a work in progress,” Brady added. “Everybody was in agreement with what they had to do”

Brady told the court he began making final preparations on the day of the escape by putting the spears together.

He then went on to talk about the actual event, including details of each person murdered.

Brady started with Veronica Darden, saying he didn’t want to kill her.

“She said something to me, and that’s when Seth Frazier hit her with a hammer,” Brady said. “The plan was that she was supposed to go down with one hit. She started to scream. That’s when I punched her in the face and she went down to the floor.”

Brady says he went to take care of others things while two of the inmates were supposed to take out corrections officer Justin Smith.

“By the time I arrived Smith was on his last leg,” Brady said. “I pulled the (scissors) blade and stabbed him four to eight times on the right side. I held him while the others finished him off.”

Brady told the court the four inmates then went down the elevator toward the loading dock. He used a radio stolen from Smith to call in the fire he just set. It was meant to be a diversion.

When they got down to the loading dock, Brady said it was his job to take out the corrections officer.

“When I say take out, it’s not saying kill,” Brady said. “Just knock out.”
Brady says that’s where he saw Wendy Shannon.

“I said in my mind it’s gone time,” Brady added. “I grabbed Mrs. Shannon and hit her with the hammer. It was a glancing blow and the hammer slipped out of my hands. I punched her in the face and punched her again and she went unconscious.”

Brady told the jury he pulled Shannon into the elevator and that’s when Geoffrey Howe walked out of the maintenance office.

“I had to do something fast,” Brady said.  “At this time everything was just sidelining, everything was just messed up.”

Brady says he punched Howe twice and knocked him unconscious.

“I hit Geoffrey Howe until he stopped moving,” Brady added. “I don’t know how many times I hit him, but I hit him until he stopped moving.”

Howe, Shannon, Smith, and Darden all died in the escape attempt.

Brady then attacked officer George Midgett from behind with a hammer on the loading dock.

Midgett survived but suffered permanent injuries. 

Brady said the inmates then ran out into the yard and started jumping fences. One by one each inmate was caught.

“I already told them I wanted two possibilities on how this can go,” Brady told the other three inmates. “We escape and I get my freedom. I get them to kill me and I get my freedom.”

One corrections officer shot at Brady but missed. Brady says he tried to get the officer to shoot him in the chest.

“I tried to get them to shoot me,” Brady said. “I tried multiple ways and finally I decided to give myself up.”

Brady and the other inmates were captured.

He was the first of the three inmates to be put on trial. A jury convicted him of four counts of murder.

The defense finished questioning him, and first thing Wednesday morning prosecutors have the chance to cross-examine him.

The jury could be days away from deliberating his punishment. They will decide whether to give him life in prison or the death penalty. 

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(WAVY) A jury found Mikel Brady guilty of murder in the deaths of four prison workers during a failed 2017 prison escape in Pasquotank County.

It came just 30 minutes after closing arguments in the case on Monday. Prosecutors say the evidence was overwhelming against Brady.

On Monday, the jury once again saw pictures of the victims and video of Brady attacking corrections officers. The defense argued that Brady was one of four inmates who planned and carried out the escape but said he didn’t kill or injure all of the victims that day.

Prosecutors though told the jury when you hunt with the pack, you are responsible for the kill.

The jury will now decide whether Brady will receive the death penalty.

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MANTEO, N.C. (WAVY) — On Thursday, Mikel Brady’s murder trial focused on an hour-and-a-half interrogation with investigators shortly after the alleged escape attempt at Pasquotank Correctional Institute.

“The justice system is supposed to be fair around the world in my opinion,” Brady said to SBI agent Paul Munson in the interrogation, in which he confessed to plotting and taking part in the incident.

Brady told Munson he was mad at the justice system. He wasn’t happy with being sentenced to 60 years behind bars for shooting at a state trooper. 

That’s why he was at Pasquotank Correctional. He was also unhappy with how he was treated by prison corrections officers.

“They just don’t care about us,” Brady added.

Brady was at the prison since January 2014 and worked in the warehouse.

“Inmates do everything and we get stepped on over and over and over,” he said. 

Brady said he and the other three inmates had been planning months before October 12, 2017. He said they would talk about their plans as they worked out in the yard.

“I guess in some ways we were bouncing ideas off of each other,” Brady added.

Throughout the interview, Brady rambled, at one point breaking down as he told investigators what they were planning.

“Originally I guess I was the first one to mention escaping,” he said.

Brady talked about killing corrections officers. He told Munson that one of them was really nice to him. He said he was able to use his employment in the warehouse to gather supplies needed to carry out the escape attempt.

Brady went on to say that he lit the fire and used a radio taken from one of the fallen COs to call it in. It was meant to be a diversion.

The inmates were caught outside the prison walls. “It wasn’t supposed to happen like that,” Brady added.

The defense rested its case on Thursday afternoon without calling any witnesses, after the jury heard more than 20 in the past week from the prosecution. The trial is expected to pick back up on Monday with jury instructions and closing arguments.

Brady is facing the death penalty.

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DARE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — On day 3 of the Mikel Brady’s trial, the jury heard that the inmates in the escape attempt were well prepared, they had been stocking and stashing tools for a while, and they definitely had a plan.

Investigators from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations took center stage on Wednesday, showing the inside of Pasquotank Correctional back in October 2017.  

Jurors watched as the inmates carried out North Carolina’s worst prison escape attempt.

“When they came back from lunch they began to gather supplies like the hammer, screwdrivers and sewing kits,” said SBI Special Agent Jennifer Matherly. 

The video played focused on Brady’s movements. There were moments he’s pushing a cart full of cardboard through the halls. It would be as a kindling to start a fire for a diversion.

What isn’t on camera is the killing of three out of the four prison employees. Prosecutors did show the moments before Officer Justin Smith died. Jurors saw Smith led behind some boxes before his throat was slashed.

There was also a moment on the loading dock as the inmates surrounded Officer George Midgett. Investigators say Brady hit Midgett in the head with a hammer.  The inmates then dragged his body from the camera’s view.

Midgett survived but was severely injured.

The jury then was shown more than 100 crime scene photos that showed areas the employees were attacked and wounds they suffered.

One photo even shows some paper stuffed in the latch of a prison door so it wouldn’t lock.

Investigators say they recovered four backpacks which contained shirts, socks, and food.

The inmates were captured outside the prison’s walls.

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PASQUOTANK CO., N.C. (WAVY) – Testimony continued for a third day Wednesday in the trial of an inmate charged in a deadly attempted escape from a prison in Pasquotank County.

Mikel Brady and three other inmates are accused of killing four staff members at Pasquotank Correctional Institution back in 2017.

In court Wednesday, prosecutors showed surveillance video from inside the prison that day. It shows some of the inmates starting fires and attacking correction officers.

Prosecutors plan to call crime scene investigators to the stand today to talk about the scene and the items they processed.

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DARE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — Eyewitnesses inside the Pasquotank prison highlighted day two of testimony in Mikel Brady’s murder trial.

Brady is accused of trying to escape from the Pasquotank Correctional Institution and killing four employees.

“It was like a war zone,” Pasquotank Correctional officer Justin Krzemionka testified.

That’s how witnesses described the scene inside the prison on October 12, 2017.

“He was a bloody mess,” former correctional officer Scott Stormer added about one of his colleagues. “I saw inmates hitting, punching and stabbing him. One had a hammer.”

Several witnesses told the jury it was Brady swinging the hammer.

“He went as far back as he would swing without hitting the other inmates or hitting himself,” Stormer said.

“When I opened the door I saw inmate Brady with a claw hammer striking officer Midgett in the head,” said former maintenance man Dwayne Miller. “He had Mr. Midgett’s one arm pinned down and he was swinging the hammer like he was trying to bust a cinder block.”

Witnesses say that’s when Brady and the others made a run for it. They made their way over and through wire fences and at one point confronted by Stormer.

“They said you are going to have to kill us,” Stormer added.

Stormer was stabbed three times in the back but didn’t realize it until later.

The inmates continued to run until help arrived.

“At that time I got out of my truck, pointed my shotgun at Brady,” Krzemionka said. “I told him to stand down. It ain’t worth it.”

The inmates gave up, but the damage was done.

“It was something you don’t want to see,” Miller added. “[The employees] were messed up.”

Brady is the first of the four inmates to be on trial.  If convicted, he could get the death penalty.

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On Monday, North Carolina prosecutors began to lay out the case against inmate Mikel Brady, who authorities say was involved in the deadly failed prison escape at Pasquotank Correctional Institute in 2017.

Brady could be given the death penalty if found guilty.

Prosecutors called one witness after another who talked about the chaos inside Pasquotank moments after the attempted escape.

Former Elizabeth City Police Officer William Davis got to the prison shortly after the call went out.

Davis had his body camera rolling as he ran in to help, and the jury got to see the gruesome scene.

He told the jury all he could smell was fresh blood when he arrived.

“I’ve seen a lot of stuff, but the one thing that has stuck with me from this case has been the smell and the odor,” Davis told the jury.  “I don’t know if anybody has ever smelled it and I hope nobody ever does, but the odor was just pure blood.”

Most of the 26 minutes of video footage were graphic, filled with scenes showing staff members giving aid to the employees who were badly beaten and stabbed.

Davis talked about the moments when he tried to save officers, only to learn they were already dead. Their necks had been cut.

“Correctional officers and people were just plugging holes with gauze and wounds and stuff like that,” Davis added.

Prosecutors say four inmates including Brady set fires in the prison’s sewing plant before attacking staff.

“Everything was so smoky and the water was murky,” said former prison nurse Michelle Godfrey.

Staff went from one victim to the next hoping they were still alive.

“Her whole face and head were covered in blood,” Godfrey added about one victim.

Four times there was nothing they could do.

“I felt at first when I went to open her airway my fingers literally went into her neck on the left side,” Godfrey added talking about Veronica Darden.  “That’s when I said her neck has been cut.”

Prosecutors say the inmates were captured outside. Brady is the first of the inmates to go on trial.

The trial is expected to take several weeks.

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(WAVY) Testimony continued Monday in the trial of an inmate authorities say was involved in a deadly failed prison escape.

Mikel Brady is accused of being part of the deadly attack at the Pasquotank Correctional facility in 2017. Four prison employees were killed in the escape attempt.

Prosecutors have begun to lay out their case. They are calling up witnesses, who have described the scene inside the Pasquotank Correctional Institution as a blood-filled chaotic scene.

First to testify Monday was an Elizabeth City police officer, who told the jury all he could smell was fresh blood when he arrived on the scene. He talked about the moments when he tried to save officers, only to learn they were already dead. Their necks had been cut.

The jury then watched the officer’s body camera video of the gruesome scene. Prosecutors say this was the ending of a deadly prison escape caused by four inmates.

One of those inmates, Mikel Brady, is who is currently on trial. He could be given the death penalty if found guilty.

The trial is expected to take several weeks.

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DARE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — For the last four days prosecutors and the defense have grilled potential jurors in Dare County in an effort to find 16 who will be fair and impartial.

That jury in the Mikel Brady case will be made up of twelve people, along with four alternates, and is expected to hear at least three weeks of testimony connected to the deadly Pasquotank prison escape attempt in 2017.

On Thursday in court, it was revealed there could be 70 witnesses to take the stand in this high-profile murder trial.

The defendant, Mikel Brady, is accused of killing four Pasquotank Correctional Institute employees in the failed escape attempt in October 2017.

Brady is the first of four former inmates accused of the crime to go to trial.

If found guilty, he could be given the death penalty.

The process of finding a jury has been extra difficult because this is a case involving the death penalty.

There are people on both sides who are very passionate about giving that sort of punishment. It’s also been hard to find people in Dare County who haven’t heard about the case and haven’t formed an opinion on whether Mikel Brady is innocent or guilty.

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