Sikeston teen no longer faces murder charges

By Holly Brantley

SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) - It's a story that's brought emotional reaction on both sides. Monday night, we learned a grand jury chose not to indict 17 year old Brianna Branson on murder charges.

Scott County authorities had accused Branson of striking and killing 18 year old Kendra Gray with her vehicle at an underage drinking party in Sikeston.

Branson's lawyer, George Gilmore says the decision is rare. He tells us Branson is relieved, but still carries a big burden.

"She'll be tragically affected for the rest of her life," said Gilmore. "It's a tragedy for the Gray family. It's a tragedy for Sikeston."

The two girls apparently got into a fight during the party in July. The argument ended when the truck Branson was driving struck Gray.

Authorities found Kendra dead when they arrived.  At the time, prosecutors charged Branson with murder.

"I just can't imagine being 17 and never even having a traffic ticket and now for the rest of her life she has to live with that she was the operator of a vehicle that ran over and killed somebody," said Gilmore.

Monday in a Scott County court room, prosecutors brought the case before a grand jury.

Gilmore says it was an unusual move instead of going ahead with the preliminary hearing scheduled for this week.

The grand jury meets in secret, and prosecutors submit evidence without any presence from the side of the defense.

"It's very unusual so it's speaks highly of the grand jury that they didn't return an indictment," said Gilmore. "I don't even know what evidence they presented."

Heartland news contacted Scott County prosecutor, Paul Boyd for comment. He would only say the grand jury failed to return an indictment on the evidence presented and the investigation is ongoing.

"This case isn't over," said Gilmore. "There could still be other charges."

Meanwhile, Gilmore says Branson has a message for Kendra's family: "She asked me again to express her sympathy to the family and remorse for what's happened and she's praying for them."

Branson is out of jail at this time.  Gilmore says she'll appear before Judge Dolan on other charges soon.  She could still face jail time.

Heartland News has tried to reach the Gray family for comment, but hasn't been able to reach them at this time.

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