TULSA, Okla. – A jury that convicted the younger of two Oklahoma brothers in the fatal stabbings of their parents and three siblings recommended Friday that he eventually be given a chance to get out of prison.
The jury recommended a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole for 19-year-old Michael Bever. Two days earlier it convicted him of five counts of first-degree murder and one count of assault and battery with intent to kill for his role in the 2015 stabbings.
On Thursday, the jury recommended he serve 28 years in prison for the assault on a sibling who survived the attack.
Bever was 16 when authorities say he and brother Robert Bever killed their family members. Robert Bever, who was 18 at the time, pleaded guilty in 2016 and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Michael Bever did not testify in his own defense during the 20-day trial, and his attorneys relied heavily on the testimony of Robert Bever, who told his brother's jury that he wanted to take responsibility for all of the killings.
In a videotaped interview that jurors saw, Michael Bever told detectives that he stabbed his 10-year-old brother and his mother.
Defense attorneys argued that the younger brother was led astray by the older brother. Tulsa County's chief public defender, Corbin Brewster, told reporters Friday his client was grateful for the jury's recommendation.
"It was a recognition of Michael Bever's humanity and that sometimes people are responsible for doing bad things, but they're still human beings and they still deserve a chance to make themselves better."
If a judge accepts the jury's sentencing recommendation, Bever could be eligible for parole in about 38 years. He would be 57.
But prosecutors said Michael Bever should be locked up for life because he was a willing participant in the gruesome killings of his family as well as the attack on a sister, now 16, who survived.
Tulsa District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said Friday that his office will advocate for a judge to hand down the harshest punishment possible at a sentencing hearing set for July.
"I hope for Broken Arrow, the citizens of Broken Arrow, that this dark mark for their community is going to be able to be set aside," the prosecutor said. "It's definitely the hardest case I've ever prosecuted."