York City man gets maximum sentence in girlfriend's beating death


A York City man was sentenced Wednesday to the maximum possible punishment for the beating death of his girlfriend.

Jermaine Stanford Taylor, 24, was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in state prison for the third-degree murder of Billie Jo Bratton. He pleaded guilty to the charge in July.

Bratton, 34, suffered head and facial injuries during the February 2014 beating that caused her brain to hemorrhage, and she also suffered multiple broken ribs and bruises and abrasions on her hip, neck, knees, legs and shoulder, according to court documents.

York City Police said Taylor beat Bratton to death inside her York City home.

Bratton's sister, mother and son wrote victim-impact statements that a prosecutor read during the sentencing hearing.

"No person should get off easy for doing that to anyone," Bratton's mother, Ruth Merrell, wrote in her statement.

In her statement, Bratton's sister, April Smeal, said that Bratton was her best friend.

"Please let justice be served and give him the max and let her rest in peace," she wrote.

Off the streets: John Bratton Jr., who was 15 at the time of his mother's death, said in his statement that she wanted to do all she could for people.

"He needs to be off the streets so he can't do this to anyone else again," he wrote.

Bratton's 10-year-old son, Hunter Rinehart, spoke at the hearing.

He told presiding Common Pleas Judge Thomas H. Kelley that he misses his mom and said Taylor should be sent to jail for "a million years."

Taylor's defense attorney, Karen Comery, said his actions were partly due to his upbringing. He grew up in foster care from the time he was 3 years old, she said, and was abused while in foster care. He was medicated on and off from the time he was 16, his attorney said.

On drugs: Taylor was under the influence of Valium and marijuana when he fatally beat Bratton, according to Comery.

When Taylor spoke to police afterward, he could not remember everything that happened, she said.

Taylor's mother, Natalia Stanford, told the judge she was at a loss for words.

"I'm very sorry for her children, but my son didn't mean to do that," she said. "His boys need him too."

Taylor apologized and said he didn't expect Bratton's family to forgive him, but he asked for leniency in his sentencing for the sake of his children.

Kelley sentenced Taylor to 20 to 40 years in state prison. It was the maximum possible sentence under state law, senior deputy prosecutor Chuck Murphy said.

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