Box-cutter killer guilty of first-degree murder, sentenced to life without parole

DELAND - Brandon McLean who was accused of killing his girlfriend by slashing and stabbing her 77 times with a box cutter was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole on Thursday.

Accused box-cutter killer, Brandon McLean, of DeLand, enters the courtroom on Wednesday as his murder trial entered its second day.
Accused box-cutter killer, Brandon McLean, of DeLand, enters the courtroom on Wednesday as his murder trial entered its second day.

The jury deliberated for fewer than two hours before reaching its verdict against the 34-year-old man from DeLand.

McLean represented himself in the three-day trial. He was charged with first-degree murder for killing Amy Humphries, 28, of Orange City. McLean killed the young woman for failing to buy him a handgun, according to prosecutors.

He was charged after Humphries' body was found dumped on a bike trail in Osteen on April 20, 2021.

“This was an especially brutal murder,” State Attorney R.J. Larizza said of the case on Friday. “I cannot fathom why the defendant committed such a vicious crime. He deserves to suffer greatly for his actions.”

After the verdict was announced, Humphries' sisters, friends, and mother, made statements during the sentencing hearing telling the judge about the beautiful person that Humphries was.

'She loved animals. She loved people.'

Suzanna Humphries-Reep Beagle, Amy's mother, said she still cries over the loss of her daughter.

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Amy Humphries graduated from Deltona High School with top honors in 2011 and was a member of the marching band where she played the trumpet, her mother said.

She was a very giving person and volunteered for seven years at Volusia-Flagler Hospice in Orange City. She also dedicated some of her spare time to caring for animals at Journey's End Animal Shelter in DeLand.

"She loved animals. She loved people," Suzanna Humphries-Reep Beagle said.

She was well-loved in the community and had just gotten her associate's degree four months before she was murdered, her mother told Circuit Judge Dawn Nichols in the sentencing hearing.

Amy Humphries loved poetry, and was a supervisor at a local call center for Chase, her mother said.

"She was very, very smart, she was very healthy," she said.

Killer's love story torn apart

On Thursday, McLean took the witness stand and said he loved Humphries and wanted to marry her, getting emotional at times.

But in her cross-examination, Assistant State Attorney Heatha Trigones tore apart his story.

Trigones began by telling McLean that he had 12 felony convictions and two misdemeanors.

"Now you claimed that you were in love with Amy, you wanted to marry her, is that right?" she asked McLean.

The prosecutor then shared letters that McLean wrote to Humphries with jurors. In the letters, McLean called her derogatory names and some of the letters contained death threats.

In one letter McLean wrote “you can’t trust me, if you cross me I’m going to kill you," Trigones told the jury.

In another letter, McLean declared to Amy Humphries that he "used to feel that for you but I could see you dead."

McLean admitted he was seeing another woman while claiming he loved Humphries. McLean retorted that he was in a toxic relationship with her and always "talked (expletive)."

"Yeah, you talk (expletive) and you stab too, don't you," Trigones responded.

Buying the firearm

On the day of her murder, McLean asked Humphries to buy him a gun. McLean handed Humphries cash, the prosecutor said. Inside a gun store, Humphries told the clerk she was buying the firearm for herself, so she was given an application to fill out.

While filling out the document, Humphries started to cry and circled "NO" where the document asks if she was purchasing the gun for herself, Trigones said. The clerk then told Humphries she could not sell her the pistol.

Humphries and McLean left the store around 5 p.m. and shortly thereafter she was dead, Trigones said.

"Within two hours at 7 o'clock p.m. Amy's body is found dumped on a walking trail in Osteen," Trigones said. "During those two hours the defendant murdered Amy inside her new car, she is in the passenger compartment."

After brutally killing Humphries and dumping her body, McLean stole her car and cell phone, which was never found, and drove around, Trigones said.

Volusia County Sheriff's investigators used technology to show that McLean traveled with Humphries' body to the scene where he left her on the trail partially naked.

The shootout

The day after Humphries' body was found, her car was spotted at a laundromat in Sanford.

Seminole County sheriff's detectives saw McLean and another man approach the vehicle and tried to contact them. But McLean ran. In court on Tuesday, detectives recounted how McLean ran and kept turning to look back as he fired a gun at them.

They returned fire hitting him in the leg and arm.

After McLean was shot and fell behind a house on Maple Avenue in Sanford, first-aid was administered. And when he was searched, detectives found Humphries' belongings on him.

McLean had Humphries' car keys, driver's license, bank cards, and black lipstick. He also had the box cutter. A DNA test showed that the box cutter blade had Humphries' blood on it, the prosecutor said.

Later, when the car was checked, detectives found blood in the Volkswagen Jetta's front passenger seat. The blood matched Humphries'.

Amy Humphries' last visit to her mom

Amy Humphries visited her mom the day she bought the Jetta and spent some time with her. She left her telling her she loved her and that was the last time she saw her, her mother said.

"She told me that she loved me and that was the last thing she said to me," Suzanna Humphries-Reep Beagle said. "And those last words that she told me that she loved me, that's what I hold on to."

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Box-cutter killer found guilty of killing Amy Humphries of Orange City