Brandi has served three-and-a-half years of the 12-year sentence that she was given for causing Daniel's death. The two families have widely differing opinions about her sentence.
Brandi's father, Danny, describes his reaction. "I was just horrified when they said 12 years. Your heart just drops out. You're told one thing, 'That's the way it's going to go. They'll never give her any more than 120 days shock time.' And then you get there, and you're the one who gets the shock. Twelve years."
Speaking to Brandi in the facility where she is currently an inmate, Dr. Phil says, "The day you were sentenced, you said, 'I don't think I could have ever lived with myself if I hadn't had to do some time.'"
"Right," she says.
"You expected that," Dr. Phil probes.
Brandi confirms that she did. "It would make me feel better," she says.
But Daniel's mother, Sheila, was incensed. "She got 12 years for killing my son. She got slapped on the wrist as far as I'm concerned. I believe she should give her life for his. She should serve the rest of her life behind bars."
Dr. Phil says to Brandi, "The first thing that you said is that the police report proves that it was an accident. I have the police reports here. What in this do you say proves that this was an accident?"
"The only evidence that they said that they had against me was the tire tracks that were in the driveway, saying that I swerved to hit him," she tells him. "And in the police reports it says that the tire tracks could have been days old. They didn't even know if they were from my car."
"You acknowledge that you hit him with the car?" asks Dr. Phil.
"Yes, I do," she confirms.
Moving on, Dr. Phil says, "You said you had to change lawyers. Why did you have to change lawyers?"
"Well, lawyers have multiple clients," says Dr. Phil. "Did that make sense to you that because he had another case he had to quit yours?"
Brandi says no. She then tells of how the first lawyer referred her to a second lawyer.
"This lawyer told you that there had been multiple rounds of negotiation. Multiple plea bargains back and forth," recounts Dr. Phil. "But he never brought you an offer until the one you accepted."
"It's always been my experience that if an offer is made, the lawyer has to communicate it to the client, says Dr. Phil, "to give you a chance to say yes or no."
"Right," says Brandi.
"So he told you, 'We've got this offer and I think you should take it,'" Dr. Phil says, while Brandi nods and responds with another confirmation. "And it was for voluntary manslaughter."
"Yes," she says.
"So you signed a plea agreement that said, 'I did this on purpose,'" he clarifies.
"When I signed the plea agreement, it said that I recklessly caused the death of another person, and before I went in to get sentenced, he changed my plea agreement," she tells Dr. Phil.
"Without your knowledge?" he asks.
Brandi responds, "He verified it to me right before court and told me that this is what I had to do, because this was the best thing I could get if I didn't want to spend the rest of my life in jail."
"There was a new agreement that you signed," says Dr. Phil.
"It was the same one but he scratched off — " Brandi begins.
Dr. Phil finishes her sentence for her. "He scratched that out and said 'intentional'?"
"Yeah," she says.
Back in his studio, Dr. Phil directs his attention to Sheila. "She went
Sheila responds, "Yes, sir, I did."
"And you objected to any consideration of parole," he says.
"Yes," she replies.
Dr. Phil probes further. "And so, if she were to get a new trial or to file an appeal and have it overturned, you would feel a great sense of injustice here."
"Yes, I would," she says.
"What do you believe is served by her spending another nine years in prison?" he asks.
Before Sheila can answer, Crystal chimes in, "She took my brother's life. She has a life. She'll be able to get married, have kids. He can't."
The discussion erupts into an argument, with both sides talking over each other. As the debate heats up, Sheila grows increasingly emotional. At last, she gets out of her chair and runs off, crying.