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'I hope you pray for your salvation,' Oklahoma County judge tells murderer

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Guarded by an sheriff's deputy, Brandon Michael Tyson walks to Judge Amy Palumbo's courtroom Wednesday morning in the Oklahoma County Courthouse. Tyson was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to the murder of Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson. [Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman]
Guarded by an sheriff's deputy, Brandon Michael Tyson walks to Judge Amy Palumbo's courtroom Wednesday morning in the Oklahoma County Courthouse. Tyson was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to the murder of Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson. [Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman]

After confessing to fatally shooting a woman, a Norman man will spend the rest of his life behind bars with no chance of release.

Judge Amy Palumbo sentenced Brandon Michael Tyson, 32, on Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the killing of Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson, 31.

“Your actions show that you’re a liar, a thief and a murderer,” Palumbo said. “You are a danger to the public. You have been given chance after chance after chance.”

Tyson pleaded guilty in February to first-degree murder and allowed the Oklahoma County district judge to decide whether his life sentence would come with a chance of parole.

“I hope you pray for your salvation,” Palumbo said before sentencing him to a lifetime in prison.

Stevenson, of Oklahoma City, was found dead Nov. 27, 2017, at the Oxford Inn, 5301 N Lincoln Blvd. The Human Rights Campaign listed her as one of 29 transgender people killed in the U.S. in 2017.

An anonymous tip and a witness identified Tyson as the person responsible for her death. Tyson told police he shot Stevenson because she attacked him. Prosecutors said Tyson, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, had a sexual encounter with Stevenson before shooting her, and no evidence indicated a fight took place.

Palumbo considered Tyson’s lengthy criminal record, which includes convictions of burglary and illegal possession of firearms, along with other pending felony cases. The judge pointed to the opportunities for rehabilitation he already received after completing a litany of probation programs.

She also heard statements from Tyson’s attorney and the victim’s mother, sister and best friend. About 11 of Stevenson’s relatives and friends attended the sentencing.

The victim’s mother, Vivian Stevenson, said she had no words to express “the sense of loss and helplessness that I, my surviving children and Brooklyn’s father feel.”

She described her daughter as a bright personality who “lit up a room whenever she entered it.” Family gatherings and daily life have not been the same without her, she said.

“Burying a child is nothing that a parent should have to do, so with that being said, I never wanted the death penalty for you because I did not want your parents to have to go through what I am having to endure,” Vivian said to Tyson. “I do pray that you get life without parole, though, because you have proven by your actions that you do not deserve to be free ever again.”

Curlyn McDaniel said Stevenson, her best friend of 15 years, was radiant, charismatic, thoughtful, caring, sweet and bold. Before her death, she was going to cosmetology school to live her dream of working in hair and makeup.

“She would give you the shirt off of her back and never ask for it back. It became yours,” McDaniel said. “Pain is knowing that you were with your best friend three days prior to her murder, but you were not there to protect her that night.”

Leslie Stevenson recounted her shock and grief the day her sister was found dead. She mourned not only a lost sister but the future Stevenson would never enjoy with her family.

“The impact of Brooklyn’s murder has completely and dramatically changed our lives forever,” Leslie said. “Even though whatever happens today won’t bring Brooklyn back, at least our family can start to heal knowing her death was not in vain and her accused murderer will spend the rest of his life in prison where killers belong.”

Defense attorney Gary Higginbotham said Stevenson’s death was “another sad, sickening example of the effects of drug addiction.”

“Mr. Tyson has nothing but remorse for what he’s done to the victim, the victim’s family and his family,” Higginbotham said to The Oklahoman. “He has no justification. It’s just the effects of drug addiction.”

Related Photos
<strong>Stevenson</strong>

Stevenson

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b4b38c14cc2cf1aa27e83ab26f9d5f30.jpg" alt="Photo - Stevenson " title=" Stevenson "><figcaption> Stevenson </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a7dd8455501fa9e13a11bdca96f367df.jpg" alt="Photo - Guarded by an sheriff's deputy, Brandon Michael Tyson walks to Judge Amy Palumbo's courtroom Wednesday morning in the Oklahoma County Courthouse. Tyson was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to the murder of Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson. [Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman] " title=" Guarded by an sheriff's deputy, Brandon Michael Tyson walks to Judge Amy Palumbo's courtroom Wednesday morning in the Oklahoma County Courthouse. Tyson was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to the murder of Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson. [Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Guarded by an sheriff's deputy, Brandon Michael Tyson walks to Judge Amy Palumbo's courtroom Wednesday morning in the Oklahoma County Courthouse. Tyson was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to the murder of Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson. [Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Nuria Martinez-Keel

Nuria Martinez-Keel joined The Oklahoman in 2019. She found a home at the newspaper while interning in summer 2016 and 2017. Nuria returned to The Oklahoman for a third time after working a year and a half at the Sedalia Democrat in Sedalia,... Read more ›

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