A New Orleans serial killer who had already been sentenced to life in prison for murdering a botanist after Hurricane Katrina pleaded guilty to murdering three more women in an attempt to avoid the death penalty.
Joseph Brant, 51, filed his plea for three counts of first-degree murder on Tuesday, admitting that he sexually assaulted and shot 25-year-old Kirsten Brydum between 2007 and 2008; Jody Johnson, 47, and another woman who has never been identified.
In exchange for the guilty pleas, prosecutors have agreed not to seek capital punishment against Brant, who is currently serving an 11-year sentence in Texas, which will be followed by a life sentence in Louisiana for the death stabbing of 32-year-old Jessica Hawk.
Serial killer: Joseph Brant, 51, pleaded guilty to three charges of first-degree murder for the murders of three women in New Orleans between 2007 and 2008
Brant confessed to sexually assaulting and murdering Jody Johnson, 47, in January 2008. He also admitted that he forced Kirsten Brydum, 25 (right) to perform oral sex with him at gunpoint and then shoot her. in September 2008
Tuesday’s hearing was marked by wild outbursts and interruptions from the defendant, who mocked his two attorneys as “these white guys” and called one of them “damn two-legged.”
Brant, who is black, agreed to sign the plea only after a black public defender agreed to participate in the hearing.
Brant must return to court on June 1, when victim impact statements will be presented.
Brant is currently serving an 11-year sentence for a Texas burglary conviction
“Me and my sister look alike,” said Jana Wood, Johnson’s sister Nola.com. “I want him to think he’s seeing a ghost. I just want him to know how much he took from me. ‘
This week’s pleas come three years after Brant made a detailed confession in 2018, admitting that he hunted women for sex and then brutally murdered them in the tumultuous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005. and left chaos behind. for years to come.
During an interview in prison on February 6, 2018, Brant told investigators that on October 17, 2007, he had asked an unnamed woman for sex, pulled a knife at her after rejecting his advance, and then strangled her while trying to kill her. rape.
Brant said he subsequently placed the woman’s body in a stolen car left by the train tracks, doused her with gasoline and set her on fire to cover up the murder, The Advocate reported. That victim is not a name and is known only as “Jane Doe.”
On January 11, 2008, Brant said he saw Jody Johnson, a former Georgia cheerleader who was struggling with a painkiller addiction, walking in the 7th ward and asking her for sex.
In 2016, Brant pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree murder resulting from the August 2008 murder of Jessica Hawk. Hawk, a 32-year-old botanist, was found dead in her home
He drove the woman to Piety Street, where he forced her to perform oral sex with him at gunpoint. Then Brant took the victim out of the car, shot her in the head and set her body on fire.
On August 11, 2008, Brant stabbed Jessica Hawk, a 32-year-old botanist, at her home on Chartres Street in Bywater.
The fourth and final victim was Brydum, a 25-year-old San Francisco activist, who saw Brant riding her bicycle in the Upper 9th Ward on September 27, 2008, forcing her to hold him at gunpoint with oral sex.
After shooting the woman in the head, Brant said he was driving to get gasoline to burn the victim’s body when he was involved in a car accident, which spoiled his plans. Brydum’s body was discovered in the 3000 block of Laussat Place.
Brydum hosted a monthly meeting in San Francisco where people exchanged goods and services called the Really Really Free Market. She had arrived in New Orleans two days before her body was found.
“She was just an amazing person who did things that were all aimed at making our planet coexist peacefully,” her good friend Frank Lindsay told Nola.com.
Her last journal entry described her arrival in New Orleans on September 25, where she would spend just 36 hours before returning to San Francisco.
Brydum, Brant’s latest victim, was a San Francisco activist who arrived in New Orleans two days before her death.
‘Right now I’m rolling into New Orleans. I really don’t know what to expect, ‘Brydum wrote. “The sun is setting on the bayou-slick lands and I’m really lucky.”
Brant confessed to the Hawk murder in 2013, and three years later he pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice.
A judge sentenced him to life in prison, to be served after serving his previous sentence for the Texas burglary conviction.
Brant was nearing the end of his sentence in that case in early February 2019 when he told his lawyers that he wanted to provide information on other unsolved murders in New Orleans in exchange for avoiding the death penalty and serving any additional sentences in a Louisiana prison. .
Brant was indicted on three charges of first degree murder as a result of the murders of Brydum, Johnson and ‘Jane Doe’, but three years of setbacks followed, caused by the defendant’s outbursts in court, a mental health assessment and the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite confessing to having committed sex crimes against the victims in 2018, Brant denied those allegations in court on Tuesday, saying he had ‘only’ kidnapped Brydum and not forced himself on her or any of the other women.
“Delusional aside, he raped Kirsten and his other victims,” Brydum’s friend Ben Rosenfeld told the newspaper. “The suffering he inflicted and the basic awareness of sexual violence require us to remember that.”