Skip to main content /LAW /LAW

find law dictionary

Defense rests after teen shows how he shot teacher

Brazill says that he was just carrying the gun that killed his teacher and "didn't have any plan of using it."  


WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (CNN) -- The defense rested Wednesday in the case of a 14-year-old boy charged with killing his middle school teacher in nearby Lake Worth last May. Hours earlier the teen showed jurors how he cocked the gun and put a bullet in the chamber before aiming at the teacher's head.

The demonstration was requested by prosecutors during an intense cross-examination of Nathaniel Brazill, who at one point briefly shed tears when asked if his language arts teacher, Barry Grunow, took him seriously "after you shot him." In earlier testimony, Brazill said he pointed the gun at Grunow because he did not think the teacher was "taking him seriously."

The tears were the first emotions Brazill has shown during two days of testimony. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Monday.

graphic VIDEO
CNN's Mark Potter reports on the testimony of 14-year-old Nathaniel Brazill (May 8)

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

See highlights of 14-year-old Nathaniel Brazill's testimony (May 8)

Part 1 | Part 2
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

CNN's Mark Potter reports on the alleged shooting captured on this security video taken at a Florida school (May 4)

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

CNN's Mark Potter has more on the first degree murder trial of Nathaniel Brazill in West Palm Beach, Florida (May 2)

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)
Read the complaint against the gun maker (FindLaw) (PDF)
Read the indictment and probable cause affidavit in the Brazill case (FindLaw) (PDF)
Read the Florida law on juveniles being tried as adults
Documents in PDF format require Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing.

Latest Legal News

Law Library

FindLaw Consumer Center

Brazill made key concessions during Wednesday's cross-examination: That he told a friend after being sent home from school for a water balloon fight that he would return to school with a gun; that he was trying to scare Grunow; that having a gun made him feel like a big man; and that he pulled the trigger.

On Tuesday, he told the court he went home and got the gun, but "didn't have any plan of using it." Brazill was 13 at the time of the shooting.

The young teen, speaking in a calm, collected voice, said he was angry at Grunow because the teacher refused to let him talk to a pair of his friends in the classroom on last year's final day of school, May 26.

Brazill said he then pulled the slide back on the gun to cock it and told the teacher to get out of his way.

"I was aiming at his head."

"Where did you hit him?" Assistant State's Attorney Marc Shiner asked.

"In the head."

"Did he take you seriously after you shot him?"

Brazill did not respond.

"What did Mr. Grunow do when he fell to the ground?"

After a long pause and with tears welling up in his eyes, Brazill said, "What do you think he did?"

Earlier, Shiner said he wanted Brazill to show jurors "how you shot Mr. Grunow between the eyes, unintentionally." He then handed Brazill the .25-caliber weapon.

Brazill showed the jury how he had moved the slide on the gun, cocked it and put a bullet in the chamber.

"You wanted to make sure there was a live round in the gun," Shiner asked.

"Yes, sir."

Shiner then told Brazill to show the jury how he pulled the trigger.

"I didn't intentionally pull the trigger," Brazill said. "My hand was on the trigger."

"Who pulled the trigger?"

"I did."

Shiner later grilled Brazill about why he ran away after the gun went off in Grunow's face.

"You knew he was shot, didn't you?"


"You did nothing to help that man, did you?"

"I was scared."

"Yes or no."

"No, sir."

"You just let the man die there."

Shiner continued, "You were trying to scare Mr. Grunow?"


"Having a gun made you feel like a big man?"


In other questioning, Shiner asked Brazill about a conversation he had with a friend.

"Do you remember telling Michelle Cordovez that you were going to bring a gun back to school; you were going to shoot Mr. Hines because he suspended you; do you remember telling her that?"

"Yes, sir."

During Tuesday's testimony, Brazill said he had no plans to kill Grunow, his favorite teacher. Grunow had given him an "F" on a progress report a week earlier, but Brazill said he had no ill-will and that he completed the necessary work to pass the class.

Meanwhile, CNN has learned that Brazill's family asked the defense Tuesday to explore the possibility of a plea deal in the shooting death of his language arts teacher. But Brazill's attorney Robert Udell said the prosecution promptly rejected the idea.

Last month, Brazill's parents turned down a plea deal of 25 years in prison offered by the prosecution, clearing the way for the trial. If convicted of first-degree murder, the teen-ager faces life in prison without parole.

14-year-old boy denies he planned to kill teacher
May 8, 2001
Jury told teen's gun couldn't have fired by itself
May 7, 2001
Teen admits he fired gun that killed teacher
May 7, 2001
Classmate: Teen made death threat before shooting
May 4, 2001
Jury in teen's trial sees videotape of shooting
May 3, 2001
Friend says she saw teen-ager pull trigger
May 2, 2001
Florida teen offered plea in teacher shooting
April 17, 2001
Grand jury weighs charging 13-year-old as adult in teacher shooting
June 12, 2000

See related sites about LAW
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

Back to the top