Woman slain by husband lived in fear for years
DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — Thirteen years before Darwin Brazier fired 30 rounds with an SKS semi-automatic rifle, killing his ex-wife and two others at their Limestone County home, his ex-wife told authorities about his threats to use such a weapon.
In 2005, Debra Brazier — who had taken the married name Rivera before her death — filed her first of three requests that the Limestone County Circuit Court issue an order protecting her from abuse by her then-husband, Darwin Brazier.
In a Limestone County incident report that was filed with her first petition for a protection order, a deputy outlined Debra Brazier’s claims. The 2005 incident took place at same house at Ardmore where Darwin Brazier allegedly shot three people to death on June 30; authorities say he then shot himself.
“He pushed her on to the floor and kicked her several times in the legs, side and back,” wrote the deputy. “He took an assault rifle with him poss(ibly) SKS. He said he would blow his brains out with the gun before he left in his car. Mrs. Brazier stated Darwin has a drug and mental problem.”
Darwin Brazier did kill himself, although Limestone County sheriff’s spokesman Stephen Young said it was not with the same rifle he used to kill 41-year-old Debra Rivera, her husband Radex Rivera, 41; and their roommate, Timothy James Hayward-Boger, 59.
Young said Darwin Brazier shot himself with a handgun. Deputies found the SKS in his S-10 pickup recovered near his home in Madison County. Young said “multiple guns” owned by Darwin Brazier also were found.
In the 2005 petition — filed while they were separated but before he sued for divorce — Debra Brazier stated under oath that her then-husband had held the gun on her, thrown her to the ground, threatened her, attempted to choke her and threatened to burn her house down.
She stated he had a meth problem and “has been to rehab, which did not help him to overcome drug addiction. When not using drugs, he drinks alcohol.”
A separate motion by her lawyer alleged Darwin Brazier had spent two weeks in rehab in 2004 for a methamphetamine addiction, but “did not follow through with his drug rehabilitation after-care following his release and soon again became active in drug use and abuse.”
The court file gives no indication a formal protection-from-abuse order was filed, which could have included a requirement that Darwin Brazier surrender any firearms. Former Circuit Judge James Woodroof did enter an order prohibiting any contact between the two, who did not at that time have children.
Their marriage, which began in 1995, ended in divorce Aug. 19, 2005. That did not, however, mark the end of their relationship.
The two later reconciled. They had their first of two daughters in September 2006 and their second in January 2013, according to a decree that on Dec. 14 granted physical custody to Debra Rivera, with Darwin Brazier retaining visitation rights.
Rivera in March 2017 petitioned Limestone County Circuit Judge Chad Wise for a protection-from-abuse order, including a request that Brazier be required to surrender any firearms. Wise denied the petition March 31.
“The defendant has verbally abused me by saying he will take my kids, that I made my bed and now I have to lie in it,” Rivera wrote, and noted on the petition that she was afraid he would seriously injure her, that he had stolen from her a tablet with personal contacts, and that he was stalking her.
Wise, who did not return calls seeking comment last week, denied the requested protection-from-abuse order.
The custody decree issued in December, according to another protection request Rivera filed against Brazier and that Wise ultimately denied, was a trigger for more aggressive conduct by her ex-husband.
“He calls my husband threatening to hurt both of us,” Rivera wrote in the March 1 court filing. ”(He) drives by my house all hours of day to check where I am. He is upset I am now married and don’t want to be with him. He has been physical in the past, pulled a gun on me. . All of this activity has been going on for a year but has become worse since I was given custody of the kids.”
Deputies responded to a call at the house near Ardmore at 1:44 p.m. on June 30, according to a statement by the Limestone Sheriff’s Office. The caller “advised dispatchers she had received a text from Brazier saying he had just killed his ex-wife, her husband and a man named Tim and was going to kill himself,” according to the statement.
The bodies of the victims were found on the back porch of the residence. Sheriff’s officials said evidence showed the man fired 30 rounds from the SKS rifle with a high-capacity magazine.
While Madison County deputies searched for Brazier near his home, they heard gunshots they initially thought were aimed at them, according to Lt. Donnie Shaw. A SWAT unit advanced, eventually finding Brazier dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Information from: The Decatur Daily, http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/index.shtml