View Full Version : GUILTY CA - Vincent Brothers charged with killing five family members

05-01-2004, 01:24 AM
Bakersfield, CA
Finally, an arrest in the murders of 5. So sad.

05-01-2004, 02:23 AM
Whoever did this, certainly deserves it!
(New to computing, don't know how to paste links! Sorry.)

05-01-2004, 01:35 PM
Vice principal arrested in slayings of Bakersfield family of five
By Brian Skoloff
12:15 a.m. May 1, 2004
BAKERSFIELD – Vincent Brothers, an elementary school vice principal long suspected of involvement in the deaths of his wife, her three children and his mother-in-law last July, pleaded innocent Friday to five counts of murder.--->>

Brothers was the only suspect police named last year after the brutal shooting and stabbing deaths of his family – a crime police called the most gruesome they had ever seen in the city 100 miles north of Los Angeles. He was under constant surveillance for weeks after the attacks.

His attorney, Kevin Little, said Friday that Brothers was out of state when the killings occurred. "We contend he was not present and after a full and fair trial, he will be exonerated," Little said outside court after Brothers' arraignment. He would not comment further.

The victims – Brothers' mother-in-law, Earnestine Harper, 70; his estranged 39-year-old wife, Joanie Harper; and their children, Marques, 4, Lyndsey, 2, and Marshall, 6 weeks – were found shot and stabbed in their home. --->>

Brothers had said he was in Columbus, Ohio visiting his brother, then traveled to visit his mother in Elizabeth City, N.C., during the time of the slayings. But police say a witness spotted Brothers at the scene of the crime on the last day the victims were seen alive.

"We have evidence that Mr. Brothers was in Bakersfield around the time of the killings," Jagels said. "He went to Ohio and came back to Bakersfield by car."

According to the criminal complaint, authorities allege Vincent Brothers flew to Ohio, then rented a car and drove back to Bakersfield to commit the murders. The odometer showed that more than 5,400 miles had been put on the car after he rented it.

The police complaint also alleges that his brother, Melvin, used the defendant's credit card and forged his signature in Ohio at the time of the murders, apparently to set up a false alibi. --->>


05-31-2005, 03:35 PM
A former elementary school vice principal and respected mentor charged in the vicious killings of his wife, three children and his mother-in-law is due in court Wednesday for the start of his preliminary hearing in the capital case.

Vincent Brothers has pleaded not guilty and claims he was out of the state visiting relatives at the time of the murders.

The victims - Brothers' mother-in-law, Earnestine Harper, 70; his estranged wife Joanie Harper, 39; and their children, Marques, 4, Lyndsey, 2, and Marshall, 6 weeks - were found shot and stabbed in their home on July 8, 2003.

Brothers was arrested nine months later and charged with five counts of murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

The preliminary hearing is expected to last about a week. A Kern County Superior Court judge will then decide if there is enough evidence to take the case to trial.


05-31-2005, 03:44 PM
ahhh...another case of a man who thinks he's above the law. Wouldn't a divorce have been so much easier and so less messy?

06-03-2005, 09:35 PM
A witness testified Thursday that he saw Vincent Brothers near the house where he is alleged to have killed five family members around the time of the homicides.

But the witness only told investigators about what he saw several months following the killings -- when he was in jail on criminal charges. And, he admitted, he was hoping providing information on the case would be a 'get out of jail free' card.
This testimony came on the second day of Brothers' preliminary hearing. He is charged with five counts of murder.

Jasper Robinson said he heard gunshots while sitting on his porch drinking beer with his brothers on July 6, 2003, and later saw Vincent Brothers behind the house where Brothers' slain family members were found.


08-06-2005, 02:50 PM
The arraignment of a former Bakersfield school official suspected of killing five family members was postponed for a third time. Vincent Brothers' defense attorney, Kevin Little, made the request Monday for another delay through co-counsel Anthony Bryan because is sick. The arraignment was delayed twice last month because of a family emergency for Little. Judge Michael Bush granted the delay Tuesday but said this would be the last one. A new arraignment date was set for Aug. 18.

08-18-2005, 08:06 PM
There has been a change in attorneys in the multiple murder case against Vincent Brothers.

Judge Michael Bush kicked defense attorney Kevin Little off the case after he petitioned for another year-and-a-half to prepare for the case.

It’s a case that has already been delayed twice in recent weeks due to family emergencies and because Little said he’s been sick.

Co-defense attorney Anthony Bryan will take the lead for the defense in the case.

08-21-2005, 03:47 PM
Saying the case already had been in court for 15 months and could go to trial by early next year, the judge dismissed Little. Bush said he would be replaced by an attorney furnished by the county.

Brothers pleaded not guilty when he was initially charged, saying he was out of state visiting family when the slayings took place.

But the judge decided after Brothers' preliminary hearing that there was enough evidence to hold him for trial, so Brothers must be arraigned again and enter a new plea. He is scheduled to be back in court on Aug. 26.

08-27-2005, 09:26 PM
A judge removed Vincent Brothers’ lead attorney today because the attorney said he needed at least 18 more months to prepare for the trial.

Brothers’ attorney, Kevin Little, told the judge that if he couldn’t have at least 18 months, he wanted to be taken off the case.

He said he needed the time because he was sick and because the case required a lot of preparation.

Judge Michael Bush said an attorney should be able to prepare the case in about six months and said he would find an attorney to replace Little.

The case will return to court Aug. 26 to set a trial date.

08-29-2005, 06:03 PM
By all standards the case against Vincent Brothers seems to be going slowly.

Earnestine Harper's son Eddie Harper Sr. said the delay doesn't worry him.

"It doesn't bother us," Harper Sr. said. "We're very patient. We know God is in control."

He and his family get regular updates on the case from the prosecutor's office.

"If he's acquitted he's acquitted, if he's guilty he's guilty," Harper Sr. said. "We know God has already judged. To us this is law and procedure, and that is important to us. But we know God has already judged."

The prosecution has been trying to hustle along the Brothers case for several months to the chagrin of his defense attorneys.

Brothers' former attorney Kevin Little has repeatedly reminded the judge in the case that the prosecution had a 10-month head start in its investigations.

Brothers is entitled to a speedy trial -- that means the trial should happen within 60 days after his second arraignment.

But he repeatedly waived his right to a speedy trial before the preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing normally happens 10 days after the first arraignment.

The prosecution and defense were not able to comment for this story because they are under a gag order.

02-20-2007, 01:00 AM
Update I found on CNN.


02-20-2007, 02:41 AM
What gets me is how absolutely stupid these murderers are! Even the educated ones, like this one was.

Did he not think anyone would notice that he put 5,400 miles onto a rental car?

02-26-2007, 12:57 AM
Prosecutors, however, say he killed his estranged wife, Joanie Harper (javascript:siteSearch('Joanie Harper');), their three young children and his 70-year-old mother-in-law, who were found shot and stabbed to death in their home on July 8, 2003.

Brothers, the sole suspect in the vicious slayings, was arrested nine months later and charged with five counts of first-degree murder.

Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday in a trial in which the 44-year-old former school administrator could face the death penalty if convicted.

Brothers has pleaded not guilty, saying he was out of town at the time of the slayings. But prosecutors say he staged that trip, a last-minute visit to a brother in Ohio, to create an elaborate alibi.


Good to see he's finally going to trial. Hmmm staged last minute trip....sounds so familiar in some of these cases.

02-27-2007, 02:36 PM
What gets me is that his brother is alleged to have used his credit card and forged his name in ohio to provide him with an alibi. I mean, how does that happen what do you say. Uh, see I'm gonna rent a car and I'm gonna drive back and murder my wife and your nieces and nephew so you have to provide me with an alibi? What kind of frelled up family is that?

02-27-2007, 02:54 PM
What gets me is that his brother is alleged to have used his credit card and forged his name in ohio to provide him with an alibi. I mean, how does that happen what do you say. Uh, see I'm gonna rent a car and I'm gonna drive back and murder my wife and your nieces and nephew so you have to provide me with an alibi? What kind of frelled up family is that?

Sounds like this guy was a whole different story when he was at home with his wives and children. I hope that the two previous wives are going to testify.

I wonder if the wife had her mom staying with her because she was afraid of her husband. That is what it sounds like to me. Maybe she thought he wouldn't come over and cause problems if his mother-in-law was there.

The brother should have to face charges too. He had to know that his brother was up to no good if he needed an alibi for that time period. Makes me wonder what kind of a man the brother is.

This guy deserves the death penalty. It doesn't matter what kind of a man he was at school or in the community. He slaughtered three babies and two women. He just thought he was smarter then LE in thinking that he could get away with the murders. Glad he rented a car where the mileage is written down when you rent the car and checked when you return it. He must have forgotten about that. Thank God.

02-27-2007, 02:59 PM
I agree with you bobbiesangel....I don't care how great he was to the community he wasn't so great to his own family.

05-29-2007, 02:22 PM
A Kern County jury concluded Tuesday that a former elementary school vice principal deserved to die for murdering his estranged wife, three young children and mother-in-law.

After deliberating for less than two days, the jury recommended the death penalty for Vincent Brothers in the July 2003 killings of wife Joanie Harper, 39; mother-in-law Earnestine Harper, 70; and the couple children, Marques, 4, Lyndsey, 2, and Marshall, 6 weeks old, a court clerk said.


05-29-2007, 02:57 PM
It's sad... with the CA death penalty executions on hold right now, even if he gets the death penalty, he may never be executed.

05-30-2007, 05:34 AM
It's scary to think that this psychopath was disciplining children at school and probably causing harm even though he appeared to be upstanding. What a monster.

10-18-2007, 02:23 AM
One of the most notorious convicted murderers in Kern County history arrived at San Quentin Prison on Monday.

Vincent Brothers was convicted of killing his wife, Joanie Harper; their three children, Marques, Lyndsey and Marshall; and Joanie Harper’s mother, Earnestine.

His family was found dead on July 8, 2003. Brothers was arrested in April 2004.
During Brothers' recent sentencing, the Superior Court judge in the case denied life in prison without the possibility of parole.

A few minutes before Brothers' death sentence was upheld, a mistrial in the case was also denied.


10-18-2007, 03:10 AM
Good! He is exactly where he needs to be! Wonder how Scotty feels about the competition? :p

06-29-2008, 01:47 PM
Wrongful death suit against Vincent Brothers ends in settlement

But one of the four plaintiffs reached Wednesday said the settlement is not about the plaintiffs getting money from Brothers.

“We just wanted to make sure he wasn’t allowed to get anything from Joanie,” said Elain Byrd, the sister of Joanie Harper, one of the victims.

“If anything comes from him, we just think his daughter should have it,” she said.

On the day Brothers was sentenced to death, his only surviving child, Margaret Kern, disowned her father, saying she was no longer a Brothers and would no longer use his name.

Byrd said Kern is now a successful college student in San Diego.

“She’s doing very, very well,” Byrd said.


08-05-2009, 10:18 AM
Although I’m certain this case has been discussed previously, I’m new here and I also just became familiar with the case after it was recently featured on a network crime show.

I am very conservative and very much favor “law and order.” I also adamantly favor capital punishment for all premeditated murders and murders committed during the course of a felony, such as robbery, burglary, kidnapping or a sexual assault. Nevertheless, watching the program I found this case disturbing. I must confess that had I been on the jury in this case that, at least based upon the facts and evidence presented on the show, I would have been hard pressed to convict Mr. Brothers let alone agree to the death penalty.

I was surprised the DA even brought the case to trial with the seemingly little evidence she had had for fear of an acquittal that would have prohibited future criminal prosecution in the event stronger evidence later emerged. She had neither eyewitness evidence nor any forensic evidence placing Mr. Brothers at the scene of the crime in Bakersfield.

Mr. Brothers was alleged to have driven from Ohio to Bakersfield and immediately back after having committed the horrendous crimes. At least according to the defense, considering the time span involved, the defendant would have had to have averaged seventy miles per hour.

If true, it seems that Mr. Brothers had been a bold man indeed, a man willing to gamble all on factors he had very limited control over. If he would have been stopped by the police for any reason, a broken taillight, not to mention speeding or an accident, anywhere near California (and considerably farther east than that), such would have constituted the final nail in his coffin once the murders came to light. (If he had been stopped and ticketed on the way to California, he could have aborted his plan.)

The case is currently in appeals.

I don’t know. I just find so many aspects of this case troubling. Perhaps there is more to the story than what the program presented. Does anyone have any thoughts?

08-06-2009, 03:55 PM
He was seen by a neighbor boy (who was illegally drinking at the time) the night of the murders using the garden hose. I didn't see the show, but I live in Bakersfield and followed the case in the papers. Did the show say that he was dating several women at the time, that he told them he had no kids and was divorced? His wife was going to leave him, according to relatives, and Brothers just didn't want to pay child support. Also, there was extensive etomology (?) forensics (the bugs in the grill of the rental car) presented. He also said that he couldn't have been here, he got into a car wreck in Ohio that day...Absolutely no record of this accident, no other person, no other car. One of his relatives (uncle/cousin) had to be placed under arrest here in order to make him testify against Brothers. His uncle (from Ohio) testified that Brothers came to visit on the spur of the moment, and had rarely ever visited him in the past. Lots of circumstantial evidence...Just can't recall it now.

08-06-2009, 11:40 PM
I too thought this case had room for doubt, the entomology in my mind was a little weak. I am a little hazy on the details after all this time, can someone pull up the case links so we can discuss? PMLsmom ... I am ninety miles west of you so the case was on my radar too :wink:

08-07-2009, 06:10 PM
In regard to the alleged eyewitness to Brothers’s presence, I did not even hear him mentioned on the program. However, I read elsewhere that he lacked credibility both because of the drinking and the length of time he had waited to come forward.

In regard to the insect evidence on the car’s grill, the defense countered by asking the insect expert if it were possible for such bugs to be found in the East by having been inadvertently transported by vehicles such as trucks. She acknowledged that possibility.

In regard to the accident, I was most confused on this point. The (very minor) accident Brothers referred to by way of an alibi did occur, which the prosecution did not deny. Brothers said that a boy on a bike suddenly approached his car. Brothers said he had been able to come to a full stop but the boy continued on and hit him, not visa versa.

The program stated that it was thought that the final nail in Brothers’s coffin had been when the prosecution produced a man who said it was he and not Brothers who had been involved in that accident. I didn’t hear what the explanation was as to how Brothers had even known about the accident to use as a bogus alibi. As I said, I was very confused by this aspect of the testimony. Perhaps I hadn’t been paying attention closely enough.

The greatest area of doubt in my mind was the defense’s assertion that in order for Brothers to have driven back and forth across country in the time span necessary for him to have committed the crimes he would have had to have averaged seventy miles per hour. When one factors in the need for stops, at least to get gas, and possible traffic jams at spots, it seems incredible, exactly as the defense claimed. The television presentation didn’t, or at least that I heard, say what the prosecution’s rebuttal was to this. That is, did they argue it was possible to average seventy miles per hour? Or did they argue that the seventy miles per hour average requirement alleged by the defense’s experts was exaggerated?

These unanswered questions in my mind is why I posted my note. I admit that Brothers seems the only likely suspect.

I’ve never been picked for a jury, but I imagine it can be a tough position at certain times. According to our law, a juror is bound to acquit if there is reasonable doubt even if he or she feels that the defendant is indeed guilty but that the prosecution has simply failed to prove its case. Who wants to let a murderer, let alone a mass murder as in this case, walk?

But there is a reason why we have this standard for conviction. It just might save an innocent man or woman from being convicted. As it has been said: “Better ten guilty people go free than one innocent person be condemned.”

This case was admittedly tough.

08-07-2009, 06:53 PM
As an addendum to points I made in my last post, I wanted to say that I have long favored the introduction of a third type of verdict in criminal cases. In addition to guilty and not guilty verdicts, I think the jury should have the option of voting “not proven.” A not proven verdict would have the same effect as a hung jury, but rather than it reflecting indecisiveness on a jury's part it would be a positive opinion that although the evidence presented against the defendant was strong enough to convince them that there is a likelihood that he or she is guilty, the prosecution failed to sufficiently overcome the reasonable doubt threshold for a conviction.

In every criminal case against a particular defendant, only one “not proven” verdict would be permitted. If the prosecution decides to try the case again and fails to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, then a not guilty verdict would be mandated. The double jeopardy prohibition would be maintained in cases of an acquittal.

If we had such an option, perhaps some high profile acquittals in cases where most believe the accused was guilty would not have occurred.

08-14-2009, 12:22 AM
I live near the area/city in which the murder took place. I did not see the Dateline program...I'd like to. But, there was a huge family mess involved. His wife, Joanie, was off and on with him. His MIL, ERnestine was a "mouthy" local activist..she and Vincent were mortal enemies. The kids were innocent. This guy was a local elementary school VP and slept with everyone at every school and then some. I know, being a cad doesn't make him a murderer. He almost got away with it...it was on the front page of the newspaper FOREVER and I just got bored with the case. The prosecutor, Lisa Green, is the best in town and will no doubt run unapposed for DA next year. Vincent Brothers carefully planned and premeditated these murders. He has a teenage daughter by a first marriage. She disowned him, dropped her surname, and made very clear that she hated him for killing her step family. It was very dramatic. Truly, a sleazy story when you sat here in the front rows.

08-15-2009, 02:53 AM
I know murderers and sociopaths come in all shapes and sizes, but I really did not want to believe that someone who worked with children in a school setting like that, could murder his own. It's so disturbing, especially that little baby boy. Thanks for the local scoop hallowedbe.

08-20-2009, 06:49 PM
Very smarmy story. I don't understand why Joanie put up with him or why so many others were willing to be so played by him. I did not see nuttin in him that did anything for me!!!!!! I'm so glad that pig got caught! I'm a little north of where it happened and while it was going on I couldn't even follow it as I was so sickened. I can watch the endless reruns of it now if for nothing but to rejoice in his demise! The POS!

08-20-2009, 07:01 PM
I know, being a cad doesn't make him a murderer.

Snipped as it's what I want to reply to. I am not saying this to you in particular hallowedbe but to everyone in general who uses the above phrase or something similar. I always like to add this:

Neither does being a cad (adulterer, rapist, robber, etc.) mean he didn't also murder.

I just have never understood that statement and it rings so pointless to me.

08-21-2009, 05:34 AM
Snipped as it's what I want to reply to. I am not saying this to you in particular hallowedbe but to everyone in general who uses the above phrase or something similar. I always like to add this:

Neither does being a cad (adulterer, rapist, robber, etc.) mean he didn't also murder.

I just have never understood that statement and it rings so pointless to me.
You know where I got that, don't you? Mark Geragos - that was his major defense of Scott Peterson. I am with you on this one, Sal.

08-21-2009, 10:56 AM
Yes, hallowedbe I shonuf remember where that line was first used and abused. And I also made a point of writing a letter to the local paper during the Peterson trial (I live in Modesto) saying what I said above. I talk to people all the time who never take that stupid remark a step further and realize there's the other side to that saying. AARRRGGGGHHHH!