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19-year-old sentenced to 40 years in prison for murder of his stepmother

Two years after his stepmother was beaten and shot to death, an Edmond man pleaded guilty to committing the murder when he was 17.

Joshua Thomas Bryant, now 19, entered the plea Wednesday morning in Oklahoma County District Court. He agreed to a sentence of 40 years in prison.

Bryant told Edmond police he hit Katherine Deena Bryant, 54, in the head with an aluminum baseball bat in their family home April 4, 2017. He then dragged her unconscious body to the garage and shot her in the head with a rifle, police said.

Defense attorney Scott Adams said Bryant was suffering from mental illness at the time of the incident, but no specific reason for the attack has been discovered. Bryant told investigators he and his stepmother had a good relationship and they didn’t argue before he killed her.

“We’re hoping in (prison) when he receives treatment that they’ll identify it,” Adams said. “He’s going to get the mental health issues addressed while he’s in the Department of Corrections, and I’m sure they’ll help him resolve that. Hopefully in the near future, he can rehabilitate himself to the point of being released.”

Testimony in the case reported Bryant has experienced depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Police arrested him in Blackwell three hours after the shooting. He was stopped on Interstate 35 while driving his mother’s car.

The defendant’s father, Brad Bryant, had found his wife dead in the garage and reported his son to police.

“My son has killed my wife,” he said in a 911 call. "He had a crazy story, and now he has stolen the car, and I went looking for her and she's in the garage and she's been hit in the head. She's dead.”

Brad and Katherine Bryant had been married since May 2016.

The father said he had come home after picking up his daughter from the gym and was planning to take his son, a baseball player, to a pitching lesson. Bryant was a student at Boulevard Academy alternative school.

He struck his stepmother in the front dining room and then sat on the kitchen floor for five minutes “contemplating his actions,” according to a court affidavit. He then shot her in the garage because she was suffering and he didn’t want to see her in pain, detectives testified.

Investigators said Bryant claimed he left the crime scene not to run away, but to “clear his head.”

Adams said the defendant pleaded guilty to resolve the case and to have an opportunity to work on his mental health.

“It was just such an awful case for everyone involved,” Adams said. “There were no winners. Josh was just wanting to help everyone with getting closure in the case, along with himself. It’s been very troubling for everyone, but at least now hopefully everyone can move on and recover.”

Related Photos
<strong>Joshua Bryant sits with his head down during a court hearing Oct. 18, 2017, at the Oklahoma County Courthouse. He pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to the murder of his stepmother, Katherine Deena Bryant. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman Archives]</strong>

Joshua Bryant sits with his head down during a court hearing Oct. 18, 2017, at the Oklahoma County Courthouse. He pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to the murder of his stepmother, Katherine Deena Bryant. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman Archives]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-78896ab209cd63e9d4882a9b5728f7c1.jpg" alt="Photo - Joshua Bryant sits with his head down during a court hearing Oct. 18, 2017, at the Oklahoma County Courthouse. He pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to the murder of his stepmother, Katherine Deena Bryant. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman Archives] " title=" Joshua Bryant sits with his head down during a court hearing Oct. 18, 2017, at the Oklahoma County Courthouse. He pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to the murder of his stepmother, Katherine Deena Bryant. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman Archives] "><figcaption> Joshua Bryant sits with his head down during a court hearing Oct. 18, 2017, at the Oklahoma County Courthouse. He pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to the murder of his stepmother, Katherine Deena Bryant. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman Archives] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3cc982e277223c984b6d210fcd38088f.jpg" alt="Photo - Joshua Bryant " title=" Joshua Bryant "><figcaption> Joshua Bryant </figcaption></figure>
Nuria Martinez-Keel

Nuria Martinez-Keel joined The Oklahoman as a court reporter 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... Read more ›

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