Convict to be executed in murders as accomplice runs free - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Convict to be executed in murders of 2 teens as accomplice runs free

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(Source: Arizona Department of Corrections) Richard Stokley was convicted of murdering two teen-age girls in rural Cochise County two decades ago. (Source: Arizona Department of Corrections) Richard Stokley was convicted of murdering two teen-age girls in rural Cochise County two decades ago.
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

On a carefree summer day in July of 1991, two 13-year-old girls climbed into a pickup truck and were never seen alive again.

Evidence shows that two men were responsible for the rape and murder of Mandy Meyers and Mary Snyder in Elfrida, AZ. The small town is about a hundred miles southeast of Tucson in Cochise County.

One of those two men, Richard Dale Stokley, 60, is scheduled to be executed by the state of Arizona next Wednesday.

The other man, Randy Brazeal, 41, was released from Prison in July 2011.

"You kind of wonder where her family would be now. How many kids would she have," said Dennis Hancock, who married Mandy's mother, Patty, just a week before the murders.

"She wanted to be 13, she wanted to be able to babysit on her own and she wanted to be a cheerleader," said Patty Hancock. "And she got to do all three."

Richard Stokley confessed to raping, strangling and stabbing one of the girls and dumping her body down a water-filled mineshaft.

Brazeal, who was 19 at the time, turned himself in to authorities in Chandler the day after the girls were killed, claiming Stokley held him hostage while he raped and murdered the girls.

But Stokley claimed Brazeal was a willing participant and assisted in killing the girls to cover up their crimes.

"The man is guilty as sin. He knows he did it, even though he still won't admit to it," said Patty Hancock.

"This was a period of time where science was progressing," said Rod Rothrock, who was lead detective on the case with the Cochise County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators had evidence they could try to use to disprove Brazeal's story, but they knew science, ultimately, would be the key in cracking the case.

DNA testing, however, in 1991 was very new and test results were slow to come back. In fact, this was the first case in Arizona where DNA testing was used in court.

The problem for prosecutors was that Brazeal had the right to a speedy trial. The prosecutors did not want to take their chances so they cut a plea deal.

Randy Brazeal received a 20-year prison sentence for two counts of second-degree murder.

Rothrock said the DNA results came in just a few weeks later. They revealed the presence of Brazeal's semen inside Mandy.

"It is my opinion that Mr. Brazeal is no less guilty than Mr. Stokley, and I believe that DNA test proves that," Rothrock said.

"With the evidence that they did have, Randy Brazeal should be sitting right next to Richard Dale Stokley. And I will say that until the day I die," said Patty Hancock.

Brazeal walked out of prison last July. Patty Hancock is trying to have him served with papers forcing him to pay court-ordered restitution. She believes he is living in Arkansas with family members.

Meanwhile, Stokley attorney Dale Baich told CBS 5 News he will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of execution sometime before the end of the week.

Baich is arguing that Stokley received ineffective assistance from a previous attorney.

If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, Stokley's execution would be put on hold indefinitely.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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