AUBURN | Ryan Brahney faces spending 54 years to life in prison after Judge Thomas Leone found the defendant guilty of all charges against him this afternoon, deeming him guilty of murdering Bridget Bell last fall.
The 40-year-old Auburn man waived his right to a trial by jury on Monday, putting the verdict — and his fate — in Leone's hands.
And following a four-day-long bench trial in Cayuga County Court, Leone found Brahney guilty of two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree criminal contempt, all felonies, and one count of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor.
When Leone read out his sentencing verdict — charge by charge, just as a jury would — the dozens of Bell's loved ones listening from the audience let out an audible whoosh of air, and of relief.
Brahney stood impassively, his face revealing no emotion, as Leone found him guilty of both intentional and felony murder for fatally stabbing Bell 38 times with a butcher knife on Nov. 21, 2011.
Simon Moody, Brahney's defense attorney, did not wish to comment after Leone read his verdict, but wished to express his sympathies for the Bell family's loss.
District Attorney Jon Budelmann said he was pleased with Leone's verdict.
"I am grateful that the judge found the defendant guilty of all counts for this brutal crime of violence," he said. "October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and this case demonstrates how deadly serious domestic violence is and how dangerous it can be."'
Outside the courtroom, Bell's family and friends hugged each other, crying and smiling in equal measures.
Today is Gail Telvock's birthday. As Bridget Bell's aunt, Telvock said an across-the-board guilty verdict was the best present she could receive.
But although she said she was relieved with Leone's verdict, she said nothing could make up for the immeasurable loss of their beloved Bell.
"No matter how much time he serves," Telvock said, "It's not going to bring back my beautiful niece."
Brahney is set to be sentenced at 9:15 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25.
For the full story, read tomorrow's edition of The Citizen.