Army private who fled custody is ordered to stand trial on charges involving rape of half-sister[Updated]
An Army private who escaped from military custody in Georgia for a week while awaiting extradition to Los Angeles County in connection with the rape of his 15-year-old stepsister was ordered Wednesday to stand trial, authorities said.
[For the record: a previous version of this post said the victim was the suspect's stepsister. She is his half-sister.]
Daniel Jay Brazelton was held to answer for multiple felony counts, including forcible rape, attempted forcible oral copulation, unlawful sexual intercourse and dissuading a witness from reporting a crime. If convicted on all counts, the 20-year-old faces 14 years in state prison.
The girl in the case testified at a preliminary hearing that the incident took place on New Year's Eve of 2009 when she was 14 and the two were staying at an aunt's home. She testified that Brazelton entered the bedroom through an unlocked door and forced himself on her while muffling her screams with a pillow.
He also made a threat to dissuade her from telling anyone, according to detectives and prosecutors.
Brazelton's case received national attention in February when the U.S. Army private and Palmdale native escaped from military custody while being transported after a doctor's appointment at Ft. Stewart back to the Liberty County, Ga., jail where he was awaiting extradition to L.A. County.
Brazelton was not restrained at the time, allowing him to jump out of the van and hide in nearby woods. He was on the lam for a week before being rearrested by police in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Gloria Allred, the girl's attorney, said the Army's handling of the Brazelton case left many unanswered questions, among them how Brazelton escaped, whether he was properly secured and how he was able to send two messages to his Facebook page.
In a March 8 letter in response to questions from Allred, Thomas E. Ayres, assistant judge advocate general for the Army, said the Army was conducting "a comprehensive inquiry" to determine how Brazelton escaped and would take immediate steps to train personnel on how to prevent similar incidents.
He also acknowledged that Brazelton's unit relied on military escorts, rather than more specialized personnel, who were unaware of prohibitions on phone access by prisoners.
"I do give them credit for responding quickly with candor about how this was able to occur, and I also give them credit for taking immediate steps to avoid this type of incident in the future," Allred said. "They do say the investigation is open. This is a good start, but we do have more questions that hopefully will be answered in the future."
-- Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Daniel Brazelton Credit: Volusia County (Fla.) Sheriff's Department