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Southfield woman to be tried in pregnant student's death

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

A Southfield woman was ordered Tuesday to stand trial for murder in the November shooting death of a pregnant college student.

During a preliminary exam in 36th District Court, Judge Ronald Giles said Gabrielle Brantley, 24, was involved in the slaying of 20-year-old KaBria Arnold, either as the shooter or in some other way. Arnold, who was pregnant, was found shot to death Nov. 10 at Pilgrim and Bentler streets shortly after leaving her job at Meijer on Detroit's west side.

Gabrielle Brantley, right, sits with her defense attorney Lillian Diallo during her preliminary exam on alleged murder charges in front of 36th District Court Judge Ronald Giles in Detroit, Monday afternoon, Jan. 28, 2020.

Brantley is charged with first-degree premeditated murder, assault on a pregnant woman-intentionally causing miscarriage or stillbirth, and two counts of felony firearm.

"The court can reasonably infer (Brantley) was the shooter or the court can infer (Brantley) was the aider and abettor," Giles said at the conclusion of the hearing. "She's involved. Her hands are all over this to some degree."

Giles cited testimony that Brantley gave police multiple versions of what happened the night Arnold was shot to death, including saying she wasn't at the scene.

Defense attorney Lillian Diallo objected to Giles sending Brantley to trial, saying that while her client had not been as honest as she could have been, "at no point did Miss Brantley (say) that she killed that young lady."

Diallo added, "There's been no identification ... as Miss Brantley being the person who shot and killed Miss Arnold."

KaBria Arnold was 20

"She never said 'I killed her,'" said Diallo. "She never said I helped kill her."

In asking the judge to bind Brantley over for trial, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Mike Flynne said Brantley's statements to police about Arnold's slaying "had so many holes."

"Whether she's the shooter or the assistant, she admits to partaking in that plan" to kill Arnold, he said.

Detroit Police said Arnold had met someone in the area of Pilgrim and Bentler, less than a mile from the Meijer store at Grand River and McNichols.

Arnold's mother, Diane, said she knew something was wrong when her daughter failed to check in with her at the end of her work shift at 11:30 p.m. 

The shooting, which is believed to have stemmed from a love triangle, is thought to have occurred at 11:40 p.m. Brantley was arrested, along with a 28-year-old man, in connection with Arnold's death. 

 No other charges have been filed in connection with Arnold's slaying, although the prosecutor's office said the investigation is continuing.

At Tuesday's hearing, a witness testified to seeing two people at the scene, then hearing three shots and seeing a figure standing over another individual.

He said he saw a car coming down the street, someone duck behind a vehicle and then come back over to the person on the ground, followed by that person shooting three more times while standing over the victim.

The individual got into a silver Chevy Malibu, drove down the street, stopped and then came back and shot the victim again before running back to the car and taking off, the witness testified.

Arnold had been a scholarship softball player at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Morgan State in Baltimore before that. Most recently, she was taking courses through Wayne County Community College District, according to her mother.

Arnold played three years of softball at Renaissance High School in Detroit. She also played high school volleyball and ran cross country. She was majoring in public health and business.

Brantley is scheduled for an arraignment on information Feb. 4 in Wayne County Circuit Court.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

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