Cheerleader Scandal: Brandi's Story

Cheerleader Scandal: Brandi's Story

The former cheerleader has served nearly four years of her 12-year sentence. Because she pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter, her case never went to trial, which means she has never been questioned by a prosecutor on the witness stand.


Brandi was surprised to learn that her father had written in to the Dr. Phil show. Dr. Phil asks how she feels about the idea now.

"Well, I'm just excited to get my story out and let everybody know the truth," she says.

Dr. Phil tells Brandi that he wants to give her an opportunity to say whatever is on her mind.

"I was in a relationship with the victim of this case," she begins. "It was a very abusive relationship. I tried to leave him on numerous occasions and he wouldn't let me leave. The night that the accident happened, he had called me and told me to bring his stuff to his house. I told him I didn't want anything to do with him and just to wait. And he threatened to kill me and my little brother. And so I took my mom and dad's car. I drove over there and he came outside. We talked. I was very upset and was crying and trying to get myself together so I could drive home. As I drove past his house, he stepped in front of my vehicle and I hit him. I drove home because I was in such shock I didn't know what was going on. At 2:00 in the morning the police came and told me that I had hit him. At 5:00 is when I found out he had died."

Dr. Phil introduces the kinds of tough question that Brandi could be asked on the witness stand. "In the autopsy report," he says, "there was testing for all kinds of drugs on Daniel, and it was all clean. What would make a fully-conscious, drug- and alcohol-free man jump in front of an oncoming car?"

Brandi responds, "The only thing I can see is because he didn't want me to leave. Because when we were talking, we were crying, and he was telling me not to leave."

"So he just jumped in front of a speeding car?" Dr. Phil asks.

"He stepped in front of my car," she confirms.

"How fast were you going?" he asks.

"About 20 or 30 miles per hour," she says.

Dr. Phil finds her statement improbable. "OK, the body flew 58 feet. You can't throw a body 58 feet by hitting him at 20 miles an hour."

"I don't know how fast I was going," she concedes.

He tells her, "Some of the police reports estimate as much as 65. Could you have been going 65 miles per hour?"

"There's no way," she says.

"OK, do you want to see a picture of the car?" asks Dr. Phil.

"Not really," she replies.

Dr. Phil tells her that the impact was at the top of the windshield on the passenger side. "What did you think you hit?" he asks.

"I didn't know what I'd hit."

Dr. Phil continues his line of questioning. "Because it seems to me that it's really hard to hit a human being and knock them 58 feet and have your entire windshield smashed in and not know that something had happened. Did you not think, 'I need to stop and see what's going on'?" he probes.

"I was in shock of what was going on around me," Brandi replies.

Dr. Phil continues his offensive. "You weren't so in shock that you couldn't go home, park the car, go get a tree limb, stuff it through the hole and tell your parents that somebody had vandalized your car. That doesn't sound like shock behavior. That sounds like very logical, rational thought to cover up what had happened. If you could think about that, how could you not think to stop and say, 'What's wrong here? What did I hit?'"

Brandi says, "Because I wasn't even thinking."

"They're going to ask you this, Brandi. That's why I've got to ask you," he reminds her.

"I know they are. I didn't think I had hit him and maybe it was because I didn't want to believe I did," she admits. "I knew that if I stopped the car and if he was alive, that he would kill me."

Dr. Phil asks what Brandi thought about during the drive home from the scene of the accident. She tells him her mind was blank until she arrived at the house.

"I'm going to ask you something and ask you to think about it really hard," Dr. Phil says. "Your mother, and father and your brother are all

suffering greatly. It's tearing your dad up. Your mother is starting to express all of the stress and anxiety physically. Your brother feels so violated on your behalf that he's just saying, 'Society, you can have it.' He's headed for trouble. It's the injustice that's driving them crazy. They say, 'Our innocent young daughter has been sentenced for a crime she did not commit. If she made a mistake, if she did it on purpose, and she's paying her price, I could accept that a lot better than the fact that she is innocent and serving time in the penitentiary.' Brandi, if the truth is that in a fit of anger you ran Daniel down and you are paying the price for that, if that's the truth, don't you need to be big enough to admit it?"

She responds, "If it was the truth, yes."

"Did you do this on purpose?" asks Dr. Phil.

"No, I didn't," she says.

"Did you, in a fit of anger, run him down?" he presses.

"No, I didn't," she repeats.

Dr. Phil tells Brandi, "Here's the prosecutor's closing argument that you would hear in a trial. 'Here's what we know about Brandi so far. With a death threat against her and her brother, instead of going to her supportive father, instead of calling the police, she crawls out the window, steals the car and goes over where the man who said he was going to kill her was, and says, "Here I am." OK? Then she has t

his supposed exchange with him, gives him some of the stuff, but not all of the stuff, then, she goes on and says, "Well gee, I forgot some of it, and he didn't kill me that time, so I'm going to go back again," and runs him down with the car and says, "Well, something happened, but I don't know what it is. I didn't stop. I didn't look," and she drives home supposedly in shock, but not so much in shock that she is not able to operate a motor vehicle all the way back home where she parks it, finds a tree limb, fabricates a story, sticks it through the hole, crawls back in the window, and goes in, wakes her parents up and tells them this story.' That's the closing argument. What's your rebuttal to that?"

"At the time, the only thing that made sense was to go over there. I can't say shock's the right word for it, but I guess I just blocked it out because I just didn't want to believe that I had hit him. And that he was dead because of me," she admits.


Next, Dr. Phil softens. He says, "Let me see if I understand your story. You're in a relationship with this guy. It starts out great. But then he gets abusive. You try to break up several times. He says 'If you do that, I will kill myself. You will have that on your head.' When you are breaking up with him, he says 'I'm going to kill you, and I'm going to kill your little brother.' Your number one thought is, 'I have to protect my brother. I've got to go over there and resolve this.' So you go over there to give him his stuff back. You're leaving, and he just jumps out trying to stop you and gets hit. You're paralyzed by panic. 'I've taken my parents' car! And I've wrecked it! They're going to freak! I've got to get this car home!' And then you get home, you look at it from outside and go, 'My God, there's a hole — ' So you say, 'I've got to cover this somehow.' So you do the tree limb thing, but quickly 'fess up that you took the car. And this is all against the backdrop of that in 16 years you've never so much as gotten in trouble at school. You go in for what you think is a four-month maximum sentence and get 12 years, and at the ripe old age of 17, the system sweeps you right down the river. And your position is, 'I made some really dumb decisions, but I did not intend to hurt, let alone kill this person, and I have paid enough, and I want to go home.'"

Brandi nods her head and wipes a tear from her cheek. "Yeah," she says.