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The BBC's Nick Bryant
reports on the case
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The BBC's Malcolm Brabant
"Fellow pupils claim he had a grudge against the teacher"
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Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 22:17 GMT 23:17 UK
Boy guilty of killing teacher
Nathaniel Brazill at his murder trial
Nathaniel Brazill demonstrates how he held the gun
A 14-year-old boy has been convicted of murdering his teacher at a Florida school.

The case has attracted widespread media coverage because of the controversy in the United States surrounding the trial of children as adults.

Nathaniel Brazill was 13 when he shot and killed his English teacher, 35-year-old Barry Grunow.

He now faces between 25 years and life in prison.

The justice system worked. The jury found a verdict. I think it was a fair and equitable trial

Lake Worth Middle School Principal Bob Hatcher
The boy, who had no previous convictions, was convicted of second-degree murder. The jury rejected a more serious charge that would have given him an automatic life sentence without parole.

The fatal shot hit the teacher between the eyes in the doorway of the teacher's Lake Worth Middle School classroom 12 months ago.

Two hours beforehand the boy had been sent home early for throwing a water balloon. The shooting happened moments before the start of the summer vacation.

Brazill was also convicted of aggravated assault for pointing his silver .25-calibre semi-automatic pistol at another teacher as he fled.

The teacher's murder was captured in graphic detail by a school video camera installed, ironically, as part of nation-wide efforts to curb classroom violence.

Gun violence

The boy's defence lawyers had argued the shooting was unintentional, that he had thought the gun was locked and would not fire.

Barry Grunow shown in a undated family handout photo
Teacher Barry Grunow was shot "in cold blood"
But the prosecutors described the boy as a cold blooded murderer who had shot the teacher on purpose.

Nathaniel Brazill frowned as the jurors' verdicts were read out in the Florida courtroom.

The case has again focused attention on the practice of trying children in adult courts and on the recurring gun violence in America's schools.

The school's principal, Bob Hatcher, expressed relief at the verdict, saying: "The justice system worked. The jury found a verdict. I think it was a fair and equitable trial."


Brazill testified last week in a calm, monotone voice that the gun went off unintentionally. He showed emotion once, crying after the prosecutor asked him during cross-examination about what happened to Grunow after the shooting.

On a school surveillance video of the shooting shown to jurors, Brazill extended his arms and pointed the gun at Grunow for four seconds before firing.

The decision by authorities to charge the boy as an adult had sparked protests.

In Florida state prisons there are 15 inmates who were aged 13 or 14 at the time of their crime and were convicted of first-degree murder, according to the state's Department of Corrections.

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