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Co-conspirator: Brazil trigger man

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Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 12:00 pm

By Philip Jankowski

Killeen Daily Herald

GATESVILLE - A shackled and handcuffed Brandon Christopher Walker repeatedly told a jury Friday that Travis Vershun Brazil was the trigger man in a robbery that left one Fort Hood soldier dead and his wife seriously injured.

Walker, 20, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in January as a jury was being picked for his death penalty trial for the Jan. 14, 2010, slaying of Frank Schreiber in Copperas Cove. In exchange, the Coryell County District Attorney's Office would not seek the death penalty for Walker's testimony against Brazil, 22.

District Attorney David A. Castillo asked Walker who killed Schreiber. Walker told the jury and spectators in the 52nd District Court that Brazil killed Schreiber.

Throughout the late morning and afternoon Friday, Walker took the jury through the day that resulted in the death of Schreiber, a soldier in Headquarters Support Company, 62nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, alongside Brazil and Walker.

Walker often stared directly at Brazil during his time on the stand. Brazil showed no emotion.

Walker told the court he had taken items from fellow soldiers in the past at the behest of his sergeant. It was Walker's idea to rob Schreiber the day of the shooting. He had been friends with Schreiber and knew he had an expensive television and several guns. His sergeant had requested the television.

Walker approached Brazil early in the day. Though he had only known Brazil for two weeks, he testified that he asked Brazil if he wanted to make a little extra money. Brazil said yes.

That night, Walker and Brazil left the barracks with the intention to split the profit from selling items stolen from Schreiber.

Walker testified the plan was for him to gain entry into Schreiber's home under the guise that he was looking to buy a gun. Walker would distract Schreiber and then sneak into a bathroom, where he would call Brazil.

Brazil would then come into the home and steal several rifles, shotguns, a handgun and a 42-inch flat-screen television.

But when it came time to carry out the plan, things changed. Brazil asked Walker to take him to the home of fellow soldier Mackenzie Franklin, who gave Brazil a loaded shotgun.

On the way, Brazil told Walker he intended to "merc" someone. It was a slang term that Walker did not see any meaning to, which may have been Brazil signaling his intent to kill Schreiber.

When they arrived at Schreiber's home, Brazil kept on trying to take the shotgun.

"I told him three, four, five times, leave the gun, leave the gun," Walker testified.

Walker then rang the home's door bell and was allowed inside. He began to talk with Schreiber and inquired about purchasing a gun. He then went to the bathroom and whispered into his phone as he signaled for Brazil to enter the home.

Walker told the court he didn't hear Brazil enter the home. He thought Brazil may have gotten cold feet. But as he headed toward the front door, he saw Brazil with the shotgun.

Walker moved out of Brazil's way, and Brazil came in firing. Brazil shot Schreiber in the chest.

"Frank fell back and started shaking like a fish out of water," Walker testified.

Brazil then walked over Schreiber and shot him in the chest again.

At this point, Leila Schreiber, who was pregnant at the time, came out of the bedroom screaming. Walker said he never saw Leila get shot, but witnessed Brazil fire the shotgun several times down a hallway after her.

Leila sustained injuries to her shoulder. She called 911 from her bedroom.

Walker and Brazil fled. They headed back to Fort Hood. Walker later called his girlfriend. She told him he should turn himself in.

Walker was never given that chance. Several hours after the murder, he was arrested in his barracks. He at first omitted any mention of his intention to rob Schreiber in hopes that he could avoid jail time. He later admitted to the whole scheme but continued to name Brazil as the shooter. In taped interviews with police officers, Brazil named Walker as the shooter.

The trial continues at 9 a.m. Monday at the Gatesville County Courthouse. Judge Trent D. Farrell is presiding over the trial.

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