MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - 12-19-14
The Supreme Court of Kentucky has overturned the murder conviction of a man convicted in the death of a Martin County girl.
In 2011, a jury found Ross Brandon Sluss guilty for the death of Destiny Brewer. The jury convicted Sluss on six charges, including murder, DUI, and assault for a car crash that killed the girl and injured her grandmother and two other young girls.
During the trial, prosecutors said Sluss was driving under the influence of drugs when he hit the car head on.
The judge sentenced Sluss to life in prison, but now the state supreme court overturned it.
In an opinion released on Thursday, the justices say Sluss was apparently driving under the influence and caused the crash, but the issue is a woman in the jury pool. Justices say the woman should have been struck from the case because she knew family of the victim, believed the memorial to the girl could influence her, and had heard Sluss used drugs. Justices say because of this, Sluss can have a new trial.
No court dates are set yet in Martin County Circuit Court.
Sluss' attorney Jerry Patton told us he is pleased with the decision.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Tony Skeans told us they are preparing to move forward in court.
A mother confronts the man convicted of murder in her daughter's death.
Ross Brandon Sluss was sentenced to life in prison in Martin County after a jury convicted him last month.
Last year, police say he was driving under the influence and caused a crash that killed ten year old Destiny Brewer.
Thursday morning, the girl's mother spoke to Sluss before he went to prison.
“You took my very life away from me,” April Brewer said.
April Brewer faced the man in court who took her only child's life.
“I hate you and every breath that you take,” Brewer said.
She showed Ross Brandon Sluss pictures of her daughter Destiny.
“See how happy she was? You took all that. This is where she is now, in Heaven, where you'll never be,” Brewer said.
Last month a jury convicted Sluss of murder, DUI, and four other charges. Prosecutors say last year he was driving under the influence of drugs when he crashed into the SUV carrying Destiny, her grandmother, and two other young girls.
“This wasn't your first go around. Every bit of this is documented downstairs. You've been arrested 26 times in Martin County. Three times in Louisa. We're not stupid,” Brewer said.
Ten year old Destiny Brewer died days after the wreck.
“He feels sorry, wants his condolences to the family. He'd do anything to take it back, but he can't,” Defense Attorney Alvin Fletcher said.
The defense attorney made several motions for a new trial, but the judge denied them all.
The judge sentenced Sluss to life in prison.
“I hope when you fall asleep, my baby's face is the last thing you see. I hope she haunts your every dream for the rest of your life,” Brewer said.
The mother said she will fight any possibility of parole for Sluss.
Sluss' sentences on the other charges will run concurrent with the life sentence.
The jury recommended consecutive, but the judge said Kentucky law states it must be concurrent.
A jury finds a Martin County man guilty of murder for causing a crash that killed a ten year old girl last year.
26 year old Ross Brandon Sluss was also convicted on five other charges, including DUI and assault.
April Brewer got the verdict she wanted, but says her life will never be the same after she lost her only child, ten year old Destiny, last year.
“We just wanted Justice. Even if he gets life, nothing is really gonna make us happy,” April Brewer said.
The jury convicted 26 year old Ross Brandon Sluss on six charges, including murder, DUI, and assault for the crash that killed the ten year old and injured her grandmother and two other young girls.
“He shows no remorse for me and my family,” Brewer said.
“He's handled it tough, since day one of the accident, he's handled it tough. That little girl's life has been on his mind every day, but he wasn't impaired,” Defense Attorney Alvin Fletcher said.
Prosecutors claimed Sluss was driving under the influence of drugs when he crossed the center line and hit the SUV head on.
“Mr. Sluss never intended for this to happen. He merely caused an accident and he's gonna pay a penalty for it,” Fletcher said.
The jury recommended the maximum sentence on all charges, including life in prison on the murder conviction.
“We just wanted him to serve as much as he could because he took our life, so we want payback,” Brewer said.
A judge will sentence Sluss on April 21st.
The jury recommended the life sentence and 49 years total for the five other charges be served consecutively.