To Carlo Brewer, the second of two monsters who murdered his young son has now taken another step toward justice.
And for Brewer and his family, it brings some relief.
Brewer — father of 3-year-old Evan Brewer — was speaking about what had just occurred in a Sedgwick County courtroom Wednesday morning: Evan’s mother, Miranda Miller, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, child abuse and aggravated endangering a child for the torture and ultimate killing that Evan suffered in the spring of 2017.
The 37-year-old woman could face at least 25 years in prison if a judge follows her plea agreement.
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Miller’s guilty plea came about a month after a jury convicted her live-in boyfriend, Stephen Bodine, of a more serious charge — first-degree murder and other crimes in Evan’s death. Bodine’s conviction came after days of testimony about Evan’s suffering. As part of her plea deal, Miller testified against Bodine.
Evan, according to the testimony, was forced to wear a dog collar and stand naked for hours in the basement of his south Wichita home. A home surveillance system captured some of the torture. He was scolded. He was beaten. And, finally, Bodine took him into a bathroom. There, the evidence hinted, Evan could have been beaten and choked to death or drowned. The landlord of the rental home eventually discovered the boy’s badly decomposed body in a concrete slab in the laundry room.
Evan’s mother admitted she was complicit in the crimes against her son.
For months before Evan’s body was found, Carlo Brewer had reported to the state’s child protection agency that he suspected his son was being abused. Brewer had fought for custody.
Wednesday’s guilty plea means there won’t be another trial that the Brewer family will have to endure, Brewer said. He is a son of former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer. Carlo Brewer and other relatives listened Wednesday as Miller pleaded guilty.
After the hearing, Brewer said: “That was my main concern, was to have to go through the whole thing all over again,” with a second trial. “It’s a lot to handle. When they read off the charges, it’s like you’re going through it again. I’m definitely pleased that she went ahead and took the deal (plea agreement).
“It doesn’t make her any less of a monster than Bodine,” Brewer said, “because she’s just as guilty.”
Bodine and Miller still face sentencing. Bodine’s is set for Dec. 17. Miller’s is scheduled for Jan. 14. Both sentencing hearings will occur before Judge Stephen Ternes, the same judge who presided over Wednesday’s guilty plea.
Under the plea agreement, Miller faces a prison sentence of about 29 years, District Attorney Marc Bennett explained after Miller pleaded guilty. With credit for good behavior, she could get out of prison in about 25 years, Bennett said.
By pleading guilty to second-degree murder and three other crimes against Evan, she escaped a first-degree murder charge she had been facing. That would have put her at risk of a life sentence.
In noting that Miller faces almost three decades in prison, Bennett mentioned without elaborating that Miller has health issues. She came into the courtroom with the aid of walker.
As Miller sat beside her attorney, Steven Wagle, her right hand at times fidgeted with the chain dangling from her handcuff.
In a quiet, emotionless voice, Miller said she had graduated from high school and taken some college courses, that she understood that she was giving up her right to a trial in pleading guilty.
She confirmed that she was no longer seeking a new defense attorney. She had recently filed a neatly hand-written motion saying she needed a new lawyer to advocate for her because her attorney “has it in his mind that I’m guilty.”
But if she had temporarily changed her mind about whether she was guilty, she made clear Wednesday that she was firmly admitting to the crimes after all.
And when the 30-minute hearing ended — while tethered to her shackles and walker — she hobbled away.