Brandon Clark, the 22-year-old Upstate New York man who pleaded guilty to recording himself murdering 17-year-old Bianca Devins and posting pictures of Devins’ body on social media, learned Tuesday he’ll be spending 25 years to life in prison.
In a 911 call played in court, Clark, of Bridgeport, N.Y., near Syracuse, admitted he killed Devins, of Utica, then claimed he was going to harm himself.
“My name is Brandon, the victim is Bianca Michelle Devins,” the call states. “I’m not going to stay on the phone for long, because I still need to do the suicide part of the murder-suicide.”
That didn’t happen, and Clark eventually faced a judge.
Devins’ sister told the court during the sentencing hearing that she has nightmares about her sister’s murder and is afraid to meet new people. Devins’ mother said images of the murder still haunt her, WKTV-TV reported Tuesday.
The Utica Observer-Dispatch reported that Devins’ family honored her legacy by creating a scholarship fund for students pursuing psychology degrees. Devins hoped to help troubled teens as a career.
Clark previously complained that his original attorney coerced him into pleading guilty and mislead him about the subsequent outcomes of copping a plea. A judge assigned Clark a new attorney but refused to allow the defendant to walk back his guilty plea. Clark’s original attorney, Luke Nebush, testified that Clark ignored repeated advice to take the case to trial and to argue he was suffering from an “extreme emotional disturbance” when he killed Devins. Nebush said Clark mostly shunned that advice — but for a very brief period where Clark thought it might be a good idea to go to trial. At trial, Clark was not interested in contesting his guilt, but rather wanted to tell his full side of the story, Nebush said.
Nebush explained that Clark was preoccupied with creating his own narrative and that Clark’s only fleeting interest in going to trial was the result of a desire to glean additional time in the spotlight. He said Clark spent a lot of time in jail setting up interviews with bloggers and was planning to write a memoir about his life.
Nebush said he met with Clark 15 times in jail to go over the case; those meetings lasted from two to five hours.
Clark claimed that he only met with Nebush five times for about half an hour a piece.
A judge ruled previously that Clark’s guilty plea was legally sound. Under New York Criminal Procedure Law, a judge is not required to allow a defendant to change a guilty plea.
Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a Democrat who represents the district where Devins lived, introduced legislation called “Bianca’s Law” that seeks to force social media companies to act quickly to take down violent and graphic content. The committee to which the bill was referred took no action toward passing it.
Devins’ family members have said online trolls frequently send them images Clark recorded of the killing, adding to their trauma of losing Bianca.
Watch the full hearing below:
[image of Devins via family; image of Clark via the Oneida Co., N.Y. Jail]
[Editor’s note: this report has been updated to include video of the hearing.]
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