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Nashika Bramble, the mother of two girls whose bodies were found on a San Miguel County farm two years ago, was convicted of first-degree murder. In 2017, 10-year-old Makayla Roberts and 8-year-old Hannah Marshall were banished to a car without food or water by members of a doomsday religious group because the girls were thought to have been impure. According to testimony, Hannah and Makayla succumbed to starvation, dehydration and heat more than a month before the day they were found.
Madani Ceus, the group's spiritual leader, declared the two girls were possessed by unclean spirits during a past life and ordered the girls kept in a car without food or water for days as the others waited for the apocalypse in advance of the 2017 solar eclipse.
Bramble was in a position of trust over the girls, [Deputy District Attorney Robert] Whiting told jurors. She knew it would result in their deaths, he said, replaying portions of her recorded interrogation. Bramble said that once Ceus singled her out as “unclean,” she acted very quickly to save her own life and that of the child she was carrying.
“Ms. Bramble knowingly caused the deaths of the children. She could have avoided that fate, just like she did for herself,” he said. “This is not a case where someone was the victim of larger circumstances and couldn’t control her actions.”
Bramble’s defense team insisted that complete submission to Ceus was part of the program.
Her attorneys said that, as absurd as people outside of the loose-knit “family” band might have found it, Bramble and others believed absolutely that Ceus had the power to reap their souls; that their ascendance into the “light body” depended on unswerving obedience to her. Bramble had acted on Ceus’ orders out of fear, attorney Harvey Palefsky said.
“What this case is about is the illusion of free will,” Palefsky said.
This isn’t the first case where members of this cult were convicted of a crime. Actually, another member of the group was sentenced to 24 years in prison after he was found guilty on two counts of fatal child abuse and being an accessory to a crime.
Ceus was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of child abuse resulting in death. She has pleaded not guilty. Her trial date is pending. Three other adults also face charges of fatal child abuse.