A New York man who cut a 17-year-old girl’s throat in July 2019 and posted photos of the murder online in real time was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years to life in prison.
Brandon Clark, 22, pleaded guilty in February 2020 to the second-degree murder of Bianca Devins. Clark documented her slaying as it was unfolding, and photos of Devins’ dead body went viral on social media at the time.
Three members of Devins’ family read emotional impact statements during the sentencing hearing at Oneida County Courthouse in Utica, describing the void her death left in their lives.
Kim Devins, Bianca’s mother, requested the judge sentence Clark to prison “for the rest of his life,” reported CNN.
“We seek closure in regards to the crime that took our beautiful angel from us by respectfully asking the court ... to make sure that Brandon Clark remains in prison for the rest of his life, so that he cannot harm anyone else and inflict this horrific pain on any other family,” Devins said.
Olivia Devins, Bianca’s sister, said she’s still haunted by the gruesome images of the murder that online trolls sent her. Olivia Devins ― now 17, the same age Bianca was when she was killed ― told the court that she suffers frequent nightmares and has trouble trusting new people.
“Many random people set their profile pictures as my sister’s death photo and went on my page knowing I would, without a doubt, see it,” Olivia Devins reportedly said through tears. “The picture, to this day, continues to be sent to me, but I now have all of my social media accounts deleted.”
Should Clark ever seek parole, “you can be certain that our family will represent Bianca and will ask the reviewing board to consider,” Frank Williams, Bianca’s grandfather, reportedly said in his impact statement.
Clark addressed Devins’ family during the hearing, telling them that he’s sorry for what he did and that Bianca didn’t deserve to die, reported local NBC affiliate WKTV. The killer’s words, Williams told the outlet, felt “a little hollow.”
Police have said Clark met Devins on Instagram a few months before her death. She went to a concert in New York City with him on July 13 and never came home.
During the four-hour drive back to Utica after the concert, Clark pulled over and slit her throat in his car, prosecutors said. He was upset that Devins kissed another man at the concert.
Before calling 911, Clark posted photos of her body to Discord, an online messaging platform popular with gamers. A recording of his subsequent 911 call was played during the court proceedings: “My name is Brandon, the victim is Bianca Michelle Devins. I’m not going to stay on the phone for long, because I still need to do the suicide part of the murder-suicide.”
Clark survived a suicide attempt and was arrested. He pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder before pleading guilty in February 2020. He later tried to withdraw his guilty plea, but a judge denied his request in October.
Prosecutors said Clark had researched online methods for killing someone in the months before Devins’ death. He recorded the murder and had previously researched how to livestream it, but did not end up broadcasting the video online.
Though the media has largely portrayed Devins as an “internet personality,” her friends told HuffPost in 2019 that she was not famous and had only a small number of followers online at the time of her death. She graduated from high school a few weeks before her death and was planning to attend Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica that fall.
Kim Devins told HuffPost in 2019 that she had met Clark a few times and that he was polite and unthreatening at first. But Clark’s behavior caught her attention at Bianca’s graduation party. He would introduce himself as Bianca’s boyfriend. Bianca would correct him each time.
“He wanted more from Bianca than she wanted,” Kim Devins told HuffPost. “I think Brandon thought if I can’t have you, no one can.”