After returning a guilty verdict in the Michael Bever murder trial, the jury spent Thursday deliberating and recommending a sentence for one of the six counts.
Michael Bever was found guilty of five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his parents and three siblings. He was also found guilty of assault and battery with intent to kill another sibling that survived.
Thursday, the jury discussed the assault and battery with intent to kill count. The jury recommended Bever serve 28 years in prison. The punishment for that count was between zero years and life.
Bever's attorney Corbin Brewster said he was satisfied with the decision and was glad it wasn't a life sentence.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said they asked for life because the surviving sister is going to have to live with the physical and emotional scars of that day and believe Bever should as well, but said he believes the sentence gives justice to the surviving sister.
The jury will return to the courthouse Friday to deliberate the punishment for the five murder counts. The punishment ranges from life to life without parole.
The jury deliberated for more than five hours after the four-week-long trial Wednesday.
“This jury worked really hard to deliberate. We respect that verdict. We respect what they’ve done to work, and listening intently in this case,” said Michael Bever’s attorney Corbin Brewster.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said, “I’m very grateful for their service. There’s no doubt that this has got to be one of the toughest things that any human being can have to go through.”
Thursday, the jury was tasked with recommending a sentence, but a ruling from the court of criminal appeals impacted the morning court proceedings.
The ruling is about juveniles charged with murder and the requirements needed for the person to be sentenced to life without parole; Bever was 16 at the time of the murders.
The judge ruled they will make changes to the juror instructions and verdict forms but that they will proceed after lunch.
Both the prosecution and defense have the opportunity to call more witnesses, then, they will argue for the sentence they believe to be fair.
Brewster said the only thing he has left to fight for is a life sentence.
“The jury has spoken. This is all we have left to fight for, for him, and we’re gonna give it our best shot. We’re gonna go in there, we’re gonna put the evidence on, and I think this jury will receive that and I think that they’re gonna give careful consideration to that,” he said.
Brewster said, “What happened in that home was horrible. We don’t dispute that, and I made that point in closing argument, but Michael Bever is, honestly, a gentle young man who was misled by a mentally ill older brother. And there’s a lot more layers to him, as a human being, than just what happened back in 2015. So, that’s what we’re gonna try to show in this next stage.”
When asked why Kunzweiler believed life without parole was the best sentence, he posed the question, “When do you want them as your next-door neighbor?”
“They plunged a knife into their sister’s neck. They then went and attacked their mom. Gave her 40-some odd wounds to her body. They then hunted down their dad and stabbed him in the bedroom. And then they had the audacity to go and knock on a door to try and lure out those children so they could stab them, so they can go on some kind of cross-country crime spree. I wanna know when do you want them out? When do you want them as your next-door neighbor?”
Michael Bever’s older brother, Robert, was also charged with the murders. He pleaded guilty and is serving life without parole.
Back at the courthouse for Michael Bever’s sentencing today.— Taylor Newcomb (@TheNewcOn6) May 10, 2018
Last night the jury found Michael guilty of all five counts of first degree murder and one count of assault and battery with intent to kill.
The jury is currently deliberating punishment for count 6, assault and battery with intent to kill. That’s the charge for the extensive injuries to the surviving sister, who was 13-years-old at the time of the crimes. The range of punishment for this is zero years to life.— Taylor Newcomb (@TheNewcOn6) May 10, 2018
After the jury makes the decision on this count, we will hear arguments and potentially see more evidence/witnesses for the five murder counts. Then the jury will decide on punishment for those. The range of punishment is life to life without parole.— Taylor Newcomb (@TheNewcOn6) May 10, 2018
Jury deciding punishment for Michael Bever only in count of assault & battery with intent to kill. Option is zero years to life in prison. Will decide punishment for the murders next.@newson6 pic.twitter.com/SO2g8KjsQ5— Lori Fullbright (@LoriFullbright) May 10, 2018
DA says surviving sister has to live with her emotional and physical scars for rest of her life, so her Brother deserves a life sentence.— Lori Fullbright (@LoriFullbright) May 10, 2018
Bever’s attorney argued Michael is not the one who stabbed his sister and could’ve finished her off, but did not and deserves mercy.— Lori Fullbright (@LoriFullbright) May 10, 2018
#BREAKING: Jury recommends 28 years for Michael Bever for assault and battery with intent to kill.— Taylor Newcomb (@TheNewcOn6) May 10, 2018