ATLANTA — Two teen brothers, infamous for their repeated arrests and releases, have been sentenced in a 2016 shooting that claimed the life of a Southwest Atlanta man.
Charlie and Isaac McDaniel will serve 18 year of a 45-year sentence after pleading guilty to murder, weapons, theft and gang charges Thursday morning.
They were 15 and 16 years old in November of 2016 when they shot and killed Anthony Brooks. It happened in front of a Campbellton Road gas station. The 51-year-old Brooks had confronted the teens for repeatedly carjacking neighbors.
That weekend, the boys' family worked with police to arrange their surrender at a church.
“I’m sorry,” Isaac McDaniel told the court Thursday. “I’m sorry. I was crying when I first did it cause I’m not a murderer.”
“I just want to say I’m sorry, too, for what I done, too,” added Charlie McDaniel.
The apologies did not affect Brooks’ mother.
“That was…’I got caught,’” said Ellen Brooks McFarland. “And there’s a difference for crying for regret and crying for ‘I got caught.’“
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In court, prosecutors revealed details from surveillance video that showed the confrontation, including a physical fight with Charlie McDaniel, who initially dropped a gun from his pocket. The state said Isaac McDaniel began shooting Brooks from a car, and his brother would eventually pick up his gun from the ground.
Both brothers were behind the trigger, shooting Brooks three times, as the man crawled to the entrance of the store. A third young man was involved in the confrontation, but he wasn’t a shooter.
“At the same time, I tried to calm him down,” Isaac McDaniel said in court. “He was arguing with Smith (the third young man).”
“They knew exactly what they were doing,” said McFarland. ”They’d been doing it. They just hadn’t committed murder. It took the murder to get them off the streets.”
JUVENILE COURT SYSTEM FAILURE
The McDaniel brothers became infamous after Channel 2 Action News uncovered their extensive criminal history. Most of their charges tied back to the very thing Brooks’ confronted them over-carjackings.
Before Brooks’ murder, the brothers had been arrested and released 14 times.
“Anthony’s assailants have had chance after chance after chance after chance after chance after chance after chance to make different choice,” said Tawanna Brooks, the victim’s aunt, who said the pair were close in age and raised together.
“The D.A.’s office is not perfect and we’re not trying to condemn another agency, but it does seem reasonable that somebody would have said this should stop, and that did not happen,” said Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.
In an exclusive interview with Channel 2 Action News, the boys' mother said she'd repeatedly asked the state for help in handling her sons, whose mental capacity was questioned in court.
The McDaniel family declined interviews after the sentencing.
“No remorse,” said McFarland. “They said they were sorry but I saw no remorse in the family or friends eyes and that’s what bothers me.”
Since their case has been highlighted, Howard said significant changes have been made to competency and imprisonment rules for juveniles. He said the victim’s family worked with the state to implement the changes that got rid of restrictions for finding juveniles jail space when their own prisons were to at capacity.
Brooks' family never wanted to risk trial or a lesser sentence. They're satisfied with the sentence that will send the brothers to a transitional center in their 18th year. It will be a test of survival, the state said.
“But if they cannot, they would go back in jail and continue to serve the remaining 27 years in the corrections system,” said Howard.
NO PROFIT FROM THE MCDANIEL BROTHER STORY
During the sentencing, Superior Court Judge Shawn Ellen Lagrua put stipulations on the McDaniel brothers’ release, saying they could not profit from books or any other form of telling their story.
"The court system failed this community. There was a combination of 17 prior instances by these two children. Now two families are destroyed,” LaGrua said.
The judge also added that the brothers could not profit from what they did.
“They can’t participate in any TV shows or movies that they could benefit from,” she concluded.
McFarland and other family members recalled a gentle Brooks. He allowed his young granddaughter to paint his nails, and was a fierce protector of his community, they said.
The sentencing was satisfying to them.
“With a jury they could have gotten manslaughter,” she said. They could have gotten out in seven, 13 (years). We don’t know, but this way we know that they’ll be off the street for at least 18 years.”
“God is good, McFarland said. “God knows best.”
Cox Media Group