WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A video surveillance tape showing a 13-year-old boy thrust both hands in front of him just before a teacher collapsed to the floor was shown to a jury Thursday in the teen's first-degree murder trial.
A video specialist hired by the prosecution testified that Nathaniel Brazill, now 14, took a "shooter's stance" outside English teacher Barry Grunow's classroom.
The grainy video was taken about two hours after Brazill was sent home May 26, 2000, the last day of school, for throwing a water balloon.
Specialist Grant Fredericks walked the jury through several minutes of frame-by-frame video that showed Brazill ride his bicycle onto school grounds, confront two teachers in a hallway at Lake Worth Middle School, then run through the back parking lot.
Fredericks said Brazill stood outside Grunow's classroom for 20 seconds and held both hands, apparently pointing a gun at Grunow, for four seconds, before running down the hallway.
"We're not missing anything that was recorded," Fredericks said.
The video also showed Brazill point the gun at math teacher John James, who testified earlier Thursday that he heard a loud noise and opened his classroom door. He said he heard someone say "Don't bother me, Mr. James," then saw Brazill point a small gun at him as the student ran down the hallway.
But eighth-grader Eneyda Euceda, who had been standing next to James, testified she heard Brazill say, "I'm going to shoot, Mr. James, I'm not lying, I'm going to shoot."
Brazill is charged with aggravated assault with a firearm for pointing the gun at James.
Brazill exited the building with the gun in his hand through Theresa Brunetti's classroom, which was empty except for the math teacher and her 6-week-old daughter, she testified.
She said the student wasn't sweating or crying and didn't seem upset. He walked "matter-of-factly," like it was "just an everyday situation," said Brunetti, who left the courtroom in tears after testifying.
Meanwhile, outside the courthouse, about 30 people protested the state's decision to try Brazill as an adult.
"They are trying to make him wear adult shoes," said Mary Seacher, 69. "He has a child's mind."
Rev. Thomas Masters, pastor of New Macedonia Baptist Church in Riviera Beach, said the state is "out of sync" with the rest of the nation in putting juveniles in adult court.
Brazill faces life in prison with no parole if convicted of first-degree murder.
The state offered Brazill a deal calling for 25 years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea to second-degree murder, but Brazill and his family turned it down.
One of Brazill's neighborhood acquaintances testified Thursday that the defendant told him on the street the day of the shooting that he had been suspended and was going to go back to school to cause trouble.
Brandon Spann, 19, said Brazill asked him if he had a gun. Spann said he said 'No' then asked him why, and Brazill said he wanted to "f--- up" the school because he had been suspended for throwing water balloons.
Spann said he knew Brazill to be well behaved and that he didn't think anything else about their brief conversation.
Prosecutors say Brazill was angry because he was receiving a failing grade from the teacher and because a counselor sent him home early. They say he became more enraged and shot Grunow after the teacher refused to let him talk to two girls he liked inside his classroom.
Several students have testified that they saw Brazill pull a gun out of his pocket, point it at the teacher's head, pull back the slide and fire once.
The defense says the teen was angry at himself because he was sent home before he could say goodbye for the summer to the two girls. He returned to school and pointed the gun at Grunow to scare the teacher into letting him talk to them, the defense said.
They say the .25-caliber semiautomatic "junk gun," which he'd stolen from his grandfather's house days earlier, went off unintentionally.
The trial, which began Monday, is expected to last about two weeks.