Interview with Brandon / Mom Here is an interview with Brandon by Nitendo Magazine regarding an unreleased game that he shared with the gaming world, instead of selling it for money (apparently he could have gotten quite a bit). He was a very special person!
Thank You / Trena (Mom) Dear Brandon, I am so proud of you. Thank you for guiding one of your best friends to me. I am hearing wonderful stories about you and how unique you were. I always thought you were unique but not everyone saw it like I did. I described you to a person today. I told this person that you wrote poetry; hated scary movies but loved Zombies; had Wedding Singer, Princess Bride, Annie Hall, American Beauty, in your collection of DVD's, because you were a romantic; and your CD collection had the Romeo & Juliet soundtrack, Frank Sinatra, Led Zepplin and Smashing Pumpkins.
She said she was sorry she never met you. She said you sounded so well rounded for only being 22 years old.
Happy Thanksgiving Sweetheart!
I Love You and Miss You. Mom
Thank you jurors / Gretchen Hoekenga (Aunt (Brandon's mother's sister) ) I have just read the entrys of the various jurors, I thank you. For you, as well as Brandon's family and friends, we will never be the same. The violent loss of Brandon's life is a life changing event. The cruelty humans sometimes inflict on each other is truly beyond comprehension. Thank you for doing your job so well.
Everyone who reads this should look skyward (not too high) just before the sun sets: the colors of the sunsets this time of year are awesome. Every day when I see one of these sunsets, I think Brandon has his color paints out and is messing with us!
Take a minute and look up: you will see Bandon's handywork.
Brandon remains in my thoughts / Sue (Juror) In July 2006, I was called for jury duty and for the first time, called to serve. It has changed me in ways I can never describe or explain.
I saw horrible images that will forever haunt me, heard heartwrenching and terrifying testimony that still rings in my ears, watched family members try to maintain composure as the horrors were revealed. At times I thought I could not stand it -- how you all have survived this is beyond my comprehension.
But in that process... I also met a wonderful person in Brandon.
At the sentencing, I was able to meet his family and friends who loved him so much and who stood by his side through the long, slow process to justice.
For that, I am grateful. I cannot tell you how often I think of Brandon, I feel like I knew him, like I lost a friend myself. And I feel the loss that this wonderful person is no longer part of this world.
I can only hope that by our service, as Ted says, we may have helped bring some closure and a sense of justice to those of you who loved Brandon. It was truly an honor.
Victim Impact Statement / Trena Nesler (Mom) Here is the Victim Impact Statement I read to the Judge and the defendents on August 11, 2006:
For almost two years I have been coming to this courtroom twice a month having to look at the defendants and silently having to listen about the precautions to make sure their rights were protected and they got a fair trial. I would like to thank you, Judge Davis, for making sure this occurred. Although it was hard to take at times I understand the importance of the process to ensure that justice prevailed.
Now it is my turn to be heard and to let you know about Brandon Christopher Murphy, my only child. Brandon was a big kid at heart. He was 6 feet 5 inches, weighed about 230 pounds and did not have a mean bone in his body. Many people referred to him as a gentle giant. He had many interests; video games, action figures, comics, Japanese anime, movies, poetry, art, animals, photography, to name just a few. When you entered his bedroom you got an overwhelming impression of a fun loving, good-natured, warm person. He saved everything, always thinking that someday this or that item would be a collectible. He even had all his stuffed animals from his childhood in a storage bin in his closet. All but one. On his dresser, in his bedroom, sat the teddy bear that he got when his was born. His name was Dydee Bear and he came with the first order of diapers from the Dydee Diaper Service. This was who Brandon was - not afraid to let everyone know that he was sentimental, sensitive and caring. The week his murder was being plotted, he was focused on buying Christmas presents for his friends and family. Knowing Brandon, he probably would have bought something for his two new roommates. That’s the type of person he was. And that is what makes this all the more difficult to understand. Brandon helped out the defendants, and his old roommate, by letting them stay in his home and they in turn decided to rob him, kill him and then burn his body. They had only been there a week.
The final moments of Brandon’s life will haunt me for the rest of my life. The torture that we had to endure as Kara described in detail the last moments of Brandon’s life just added insult to injury. In a pathetic attempt to save her own life, she put us through two hours of the most difficult testimony we had heard all week. The fact that this was the last person Brandon saw alive turns my stomach. I often wonder why he didn’t fight her for the gun. But I know Brandon, he wasn’t a fighter. Instead he thought he could get away, and almost did, except for Gus’ cowardly shot to the back when Brandon reached the door.
Brandon and I were very close. We would go to movies and out to dinner at least once a week. We would talk on the phone several times during the week; he would always end those conversations by telling me that he loved me. On Mother’s Day he gave me a small diamond ring and told me that he got it for me because he wanted me to know how much he appreciated all I did for him. I have a hole in my heart that will never go away. I don’t know when I will ever feel any type of happiness again. I will never be called Mom again. And I will never experience the joy of being called Grandma. Someone told me that they read that when you lose your parents you lose your past, but when you lose your child you lose your future. I have lost my future.
Brandon loved to write, both stories and poetry. A few months before his death he wrote this poem entitled Your Friend.
No, I’m not saving this seat, Hey I think you’re pretty neat, I sure am glad that we did meet, I think I’d like to be your friend.
We do have lots of fun, For each other, friends we will shun, Everywhere together we will run, I’m glad that I am your friend.
As our relationship get deeps, Into the problems we’ll begin to creep, Making it difficult for us to sleep, It’s sometimes hard to be your friend.
Another you will begin to see, At usual hangouts you will cease to be, Then you’ll say that you hate me, But I will still be your friend.
And when the stars begin to fall, When all the waters rise tall, When the seven thunders utter their call, At the end, I will be your friend.
Someone at Brandon’s funeral said, “Once he knew your name, you were his friend”.
Well, he was a friend to Gus and Kara and they repaid his friendship by taking his life and mutilating his body, one week before Christmas. CHRISTMAS WILL NEVER BY THE JOYOUS OCCASION IT ONCE WAS, A HOLIDAY BRANDON LOVED!
Judge Davis, I can only hope and pray that when Christmas comes around every year, Gus and Kara will think about Brandon, who, at the end would always have been THEIR friend.
Victim Impact Statement / Gretchen Hoekenga (Aunt) Brandon Murphy was my nephew. He was the only child of my younger sister, Trena. Trena and I come from a big family and so Brandon had a lot of cousins his age. In fact, Brandon was a year older than three girl cousins who were all born in 1983. One of our most cherished photographs shows Brandon as a toddler and his three baby cousins propped up on a sofa at our parent’s home. He has 15 cousins whose lives will never be the same. Brandon’s murder was a senseless act of pure evil and it has rocked their young worlds. My daughter was the victim of a violent crime but somehow she survived. Our sense of safety, our trust in the world that things like this don’t happen to regular people, is forever gone.
Brandon was a big, goofy, loveable kid. He had lots of toys and he loved everyone. He loved all kinds of music. He wrote poetry about friendship, love and forgiveness. He sketched; he was a very creative person. I will forever cherish the memories of the last time our family got to be with Brandon. It was at his cousin’s wedding in April of the year he was murdered. He came to Chicago by himself and he and his cousins became fast friends again: they introduced him to mixed drinks, kept him out until really late and made him a participant in pulling pranks on the bride and groom after they went to their room. This was probably the first time he had ever had a drink, he didn’t drink, smoke or use drugs.
It was the Saturday before Christmas that Brandon’s life was violently and senselessly taken; Christmas will never be the same for any of Brandon’s family. That Saturday before Christmas my sister’s smile was taken too. In closing I’d like to tell you why I call late December sunsets Brandon Sunsets: during the waning full moon, the long, low winter sky, the solstice sunsets of December the sky is an unbelievable mix of color: purple, orange, turquoise. We would never dare to mix this palate, but there it is for a few minutes. I do not think there will ever be a late December sky when I do not look up and think of Brandon and hear him say “I am here, I speak. Did you like the show Aunt Gretch?”
Victim Impact Statement / Clint &. Sonya Parker (Friends) We would like take this time to let the court know what a fine young man that Brandon was.
We meet Brandon when he started dating our daughter Amanda in high school. In the 5 short years that we knew Brandon, we were proud of him. Brandon was someone who never meets a stranger. I for one will miss the debates that we had all the time over what Neal Boortz or Rush had to say on the radio that day or that week. I remember the day you walked up in the rain cause you had car trouble down the road with a guardrail, the day we walked all over a couple of junk yards looking for a fender for your car to replace the damaged one and all we could find was a silver one to go on a red car. When I told him that now he would fit in Oceanway he just pushed out his lips and shook his head and said “ah no”. One year when he came over for Christmas, we played a gag on him with a Christmas stocking, I filled a stocking full of coal and gave it to him, he just thought that was the funniest thing in the world and would not turn the stocking lose the whole time he was here. I can now never look at a monkey and not hear him say “MONKEY” in a loud and excited voice. We miss him. We are proud that he was part of our family and our life. Clint and Sonya Parker
Victim Impact Statement / Susie Klemmt (Friend) I am a friend of Brandon's mom, Trena, and we used to work together years ago. I first met Brandon when he was a little boy and his mom would bring him to work with her for short periods. Brandon was a smart, adorable child who loved being the center of attention. I enjoyed his visits as he would draw pictures for me, was so inquisitive and was quite a little entertainer. He lit up a room with his beautiful smile and bright eyes. I gradually saw him grow into a handsome, charming teenager and thought he would go far in life. Career changes and time caused me to lose touch with Trena & Brandon. The horrible news of Brandon's senseless, brutal murder brought me back into his mom's life. I learned from his parents, relatives and so many friends at his funeral that Brandon had grown up into a fine, young man, who was kind, loving, funny, a talented poet and artist. He was so full of potential with his whole life ahead of him - the best still yet to come!
But it won't come now, because of the evil, stupid, murderous cimes that were acted out by Winn & Wallen on an innocent, good, fellow human being who was Brandon Murphy. I feel anger and grief when I think of all that Brandon will never get to experience. He will never know the joy getting married, of holding his newborn baby in his arms, of enjoying successful carrers in his chosen fields, of being a comfort to his family and friends when they need him, of raising his children and watching them grow into responsible, loving adults with families of their own.
My heart is so heavy with sorrow for Brandon's parents knowing all that they, too, will forever be deprived of because their one and only child was so violently taken away from them. I am so sad that they will never again be able to hold Brandon in their arms, never see him wed the woman he loves; never hold their grandchild in their arms. I will never again be able to have a conversation with Brandon, laugh at his witty jokes, see him create a new poem or work of art, or play fun games around the kitchen table. But, I will never forget sweet Brandon Murphy and the positive impact he made on so many other peoples' lives, including mine. Susie Klemmt
Victim Impact Statement / Donnie Tracey (Friend) December 18, 2004 the day I just didn’t loose a friend, I lost a big little brother. There was many a time where we would talk about parents, women, and life. I always hoped that I could pass some of my experience on to him. Sometimes we would laugh. Sometimes cry. Sometimes scratching our heads in confusion. I will also miss getting together to geek out over comics, video games, or pop culture. He was the ultimate underdog. The nice guy. You always wanted to root for him, because no matter, he would root for you. I will miss his child like curiosity and enthusiasm. He always proved to me that youth was never wasted on the young, just on people who never have time for it. To paraphrase Dr. Suess: “Always remember and never forget. Brandon will always be missed 100%.”
Temporal justice was done / Ted Head (Jury Member ) As a member of the jury that convicted Kara for the evil crimes she was accused of, I offer her family my prayers for healing. It was heart-wrenching for us in the jury box to not only relive the details of Brandon's senseless death, but to watch the faces of you, the family, throughout the trial. We were aware of the re-opening of emotional wounds as the events unfolded, and you can be assued that you were never far from our hearts. I never imagined I'd ever serve on a jury in a case like this, and as emotionally draining as it was, I found it to be an honor to be a part of our justice system when it works. And, as has been mentioned elsewhere on this site, eternal justice will prevail one day.
But for now, continue the best you can, honoring his memory by living as he would want you to do. I feel a tie to you, as I later discoved that Brandon was working on a mailing that tragic saturday, using brochures I had designed for one of your UPS stores' clients. It's a small world indeed.
Be blessed, heal, love, honor and remember.
The Nightmare Continues / Trena (Mom) Even though justice has been served, and the two animals have been convicted, what they put us through will be on my mind for a very long time. We had to hear in detail, from the girl who first shot Brandon, the details of the last moments of his life. The last moments when he was trying to escape these psychos. In order to try and save her hide she submitted us to more torture when she knew the conclusion would still be the same. These images will haunt me for the rest of my life.
August 11 will be our turn.
Brandon, I am so sorry you were put through this and I just have to hope and pray that your suffering was brief. For 22 years I protected you and made sure you were safe, I wish I could have done something on December 18, 2004. You are always on my mind and in my heart. I love you Brandon.
Justice/ Steph (Finacee')
Since December 18th 2004 we have waited, agonized and fought for justice and on July 14th 2006 the fate of two killers were handed down in the matter of minutes. For 4 days we heard countless testimony from eye witnesses and crime scene experts. We watched as two pathetic killers sat in their seats awaiting their fate. And we observed one of the killers attempt to explain away her heinous acts with outrageous claims of brainwash and manipulation. I know it was real, I was there, I felt it … but it seemed like a nightmare. All of us in that courtroom were in shock and disgust while listening to numerous testimonies and then, especially to the ramblings of a mad woman. The State Attorney’s Office along with a strong investigative team did an amazing job presenting the truth. At the very least, we have them to thank for these killers spending the rest of their lives in prison. I can only speak for myself, but this was by far the hardest four days to endure since the night you were taken from us. Brandon, I cannot begin to imagine the shock and the pain you went through that cold day in December 2004 but I know you will rest in peace knowing that Justice prevailed. I miss you and I will love you always.
I'm Sorry for your loss / Laurie Titlow (Vicki's sister ) Trena,
Hello Trena. I am Vicki's sister. I met you at her and Chris's wedding. I wanted to tell that I have been praying for you. I can't even imagine what you are going through. I pray that GOD has given you some peace now that justice is done. It seems like nothing though compared to what Brandon received. I just wanted you to know how sorry I am.
Blessing for you and Gods continue strengh to help you daily.
Justice in an Unending Nightmare / Tabbs ((friend)) It hit me hard Thursday evening after getting home from the day's portion of the trial, the coroner being the last witness in the prosecution's case, then prosecution resting and defense with not even the attempt at an actual defense, to watching as the verdict was sealed to be kept until the following day when Kara's verdict would be decided... It hit me hard that night, that no matter the outcome on Friday, it would not make me happy.
Maybe not everyone understands, but I think that many do... Justice has been served, but the nightmare of having lost your son, your best friend, of losing Brandon is a nightmare that has not ended because I will never again be able to give Brandon an excited call about some video game I just heard was being released and I wanted to the first to tell him and hear him get all excited with me.
Through out the week various members of the court system showed their support in many small ways that nothing I could say would express the importance of their small acts on helping us through these long days on some of the most uncomfortable benches ever. The "twins" Jeana & Leana from the Victim's Advocate, the baliffs, the police officers, the prosecution, and even those visitors who were in the court room for some other reason than to present for the trial and were touched by the things they saw and heard there. I will be in fact keeping my "good luck" dinosaur from Batman in my Smile in a Box, so that every time I look at this very special gift from Brandon, one that helps me get through so many long days, I will know that there was Justice for these two people's horrible acts.
There is an article in this morning's Saturday paper, first page of the Metro, written by a young girl who attended portions of the trial. Albeit, some small details about items of evidence and sequence of events are a little off as she was unable to attend the entire trial.... but the important parts are there. The important part about Gus and Kara being two sick individuals who are going to get what they deserve, spending the rest of their life in a place that they will be unable to escape thinking about Brandon everyday. Also, the important part about Brandon's friends and family together through the trial for support as we waited to hear Justice Served. There were many more who could not be present at the trial due to things like work and distance, but they waited everday for that "update" call and gave their support as well. Brandon was and forever will be loved by all of those he touched, because everyone was Brandon's Best Friend in Brandon's eyes.
On December 18th, 2004... the world lost a valuable part of itself, it lost Brandon, we lost Brandon. On August 11th, 2006... we all have a chance to tell these two people, through the judge, what impact their actions have had on our lives. Please give us the strength Brandon, to find words that even if only pale in comparison to our feelings, express how much was lost when we lost you.
Brandon Sunsets "I am here" / Gretchen Hoekenga (Aunt)
To Trena & Steph:
I wrote these words on the plane when I left you: “The memories of the horrendous event fade. The initial screams-wails-denials. “No no no…” The District Attorney’s opinions, depositions, evidence, come more into focus, this really has happened. Putting a period at the end of sentences, paragraphs… This really happened.
Where is Brandon? Where is he now? Walking, bursting into a room? The status quo, or life as we know it, is over. But he inserts himself, the maestro of “off the wall”. His forte.
Where can we find him? Where can we visit…be annoyed by his persistent quest to be unique-different-acknowledged? He is plucky and a kidder. He is still playing pranks. Things disappear then turn up.
The weather speaks: Brandon sunsets; “I am here, I speak.” During the waning full moon, the long, low winter sky: the solstice sunsets of December. The sky is an unbelievable mix of color: purple, orange turquoise, we would never dare to mix this palate. But there it is for a few minutes. I do not think there will ever be a late December sky when I do not look up and think of Brandon.
I wish you peace,
My First Console!!! / Tabbs I finally did it Brandon, I got my very own system! I got a PS2 tonight and yum yum yum! Disgaea is -so- on my to get list, I loved sitting with you and watching the game because the script was absolutely great. Disgaea 2 is coming, I remember you looking so forward to that, I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. Saw Mr. Misquito tonight, was tempted. Soul Calibur 2 was of course the very first game in my system.. =) Kingdom Hearts 2 is finally out, the game that seemed to never ever want to come out, definately another I'm going to have to check out for you. Of course though, I'll need to play the first one first! But now I wonder who I'm supposed to go down to the flea market in Daytona with to check out that game booth? I wish you could have seen my tonight Brandon, you would have been so excited right there with me. I actually "Tee-hee"d when I popped the disk open. It's great to think of how happy you'd be for me and to be able to see exactly how you'd be laughing, curling your fingers and your hands together and shrugging up your shoulders, all "Tee-hee" yourself and boy, I bet your face would be red with laughter. Always the excitable Brandon! Luckily for me I won't be playing any Poke-Mon-Resident-Evil-Photo-Game-Of-Doom anymore, so many nights without sleep from scaring eachother! I'll have to be sure to check my closet tonight... *shiver*
Happy Birthday / Tabbs (Friend) I took the Smile in a Box you made me out of my purse this week to set it on my desk at work, I can't tell you how many bleary days your little blue box has gotten me through. I celebrated my birthday last night, and I wanted to thank you for helping me be able to do that again too. My Un-birthday-make-up-birthday at McDonalds meant so much to me, I think maybe you need an Un-birthday-make-up-birthday at McDonalds. I look forward to seeing you in Heaven one day, Michael W. Smith's "Friends Are Friends Forever" is definately quite the tear jerker...
just wanted to say... / Rosalina P. (friend) I'm thinking about you. I hadn't noticed that Modest Mouse, Float On, was playing in the background of this site until now. It's kind of a funny thing. I gave birth to Jakob on your birthday and on my way to the hospital (2:30 in the morning) that song came on. He was 3 days late and I almost wonder if you didn't have something to do with that. I know we never had a chance to get close but I always felt closer because you are my best friend's love. Bye for now....
Happy Birthday / Steph Renfroe (Fianc'ee) Brandon, Happy Belated Birthday. I know that Birthdays are usually filled with joy and excitement. But, it goes without saying, that it was a somber day for everyone who loves you. We all wish that you were here so we could celebrate, but, I feel, that you are still here. It seems like you make yourself known in subtle ways. For instance, your mom wanted to go to the storage unit Sunday and it proved to be quite a feat. She searched the house high and low in attempts to locate the key. After searching for it in every possible nook and cranny, she finds it in her purse without even looking! There it was ... sitting there, waiting to be found. When she told me about the ordeal all I could think about was how you must have been snickering the whole time. I Love you, Brandon. I hope you continue to keep us close to you right now -- even if it means being a bit mischievous at times.