Monday, August 10, 2020

Slaughter Of Innocents: How Philly D.A. Failed To Protect A Mom From Abuse, And Her Six-Year-Old Son From Murder

By Ralph Cipriano

Michael Brennan told the police that six-year-old Travon Register had been playing outside with water. And when he came into the house he slipped and fell and hit his head. Nearly two hours later, Brennan claimed, he went into Travon's room and found the boy unconscious.

But when Dr. Lyndsey Emery took the witness stand at a preliminary hearing in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, the assistant medical examiner said her post-mortem examination of the boy told a different story: Brennan, who had been asked by the boy's mother to babysit Travon while she went to work, had brutally beaten the boy to death.

The head and torso of the boy who stood 3-foot-7 and weighed 40 pounds was covered with scrapes and bruises that a police report said were the result of "multiple blunt injuries." The boy's head wounds were so severe that Travon suffered subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhages on both sides of his brain. In addition, his frontal lobe was bruised, as was the actual surface of the brain itself.

Instead of a slip and fall, Dr. Emery testified, "I have seen that kind of injury typically associated with motor vehicle accidents."

The tragedy was that Travon's murder could have been prevented. Just four months before he beat Travon to death, Brennan, a 39 year-old ex-con, was arrested by the cops for beating the boy's mother. But the D.A.'s office under Progressive Larry Krasner failed to protect both mother and son from violence. Instead, the D.A.'s office did Brennan a favor by dropping five charges against him.

The Philadelphia Inquirer won't tell you this, but make no mistake about it, Larry Krasner's progressive policies are hurting and killing people. And frequently, those people are the most vulnerable among us, little kids and their mothers. The really sad part of the story, former employees in the D.A.'s office say, is that Larry Krasner just doesn't care about crime victims.

On March 24, 2018, Breonna Register, 22, told the police that Brennan had "punched her approximately 5 times in the face during a verbal dispute."

Register, along with her two six-year-old identical twin boys, ran from the house in the 5500 block of Catherine Street, climbed into her 2002 Chevy Impala and locked the doors. 

According to a police report, Brennan followed them outside. And then, wielding a metal chain, he proceeded to break both mirrors on the driver and passenger's side. A traumatized Register fled the scene, driving off with her twin boys strapped into their car seats.

Police noted a swollen lower lip and a minor cut inside Register's lower lip that did not require medical attention. Detectives photographed the damage to her car estimated at $500.

The case went to the district attorney's office for prosecution. And that's when the public servants who were supposed to protect a mother and her twin six-year-old sons failed to do their job.

Why? Because under Krasner, the D.A.'s office is so incompetent that it's the equivalent of an expansion team.

Think the 1962 New York Mets under manager Casey "Can't anybody here play this game?" Stengel that lost 120 games. Or the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers who went 0-14 under Coach John McKay, and when reporters asked the coach what he thought about his team's execution, he reportedly replied, "I'm in favor of it."

Krasner's first move when he took over the D.A.'s office was to fire 31 of his most senior prosecutors. Another 70 veteran prosecutors left of their own accord. As a result, the D.A.'s office was stripped of decades of institutional knowledge as well as just about every prosecutor who knew what they were doing.

Krasner replaced the veteran prosecutors with 60 hand-picked, brand new rookie assistant district attorneys, 18 of whom promptly flunked the bar exam. As a result, when they went to court, Krasner's inexperienced and incompetent prosecutors lost some big cases.

For example, when a trash truck driver in Center City who had earbuds on and was staring down at paperwork, ran over and killed a bicyclist, Emily Fredericks, a 24-year-old pastry chef, Krasner's office responded by charging the driver with vehicular homicide. Because in Philadelphia, it's illegal to drive with earbuds on.

But when the case went to court last year, the judge threw out the charges and the trash truck driver walked. Why? Because the judge ruled that the D.A. hadn't been able to prove that a crime had been committed.

Besides sheer incompetence, the D.A.'s office under Krasner has been corrupted in the sense that instead of seeking justice for crime victims, Krasner's D.A.'s office functions to do favors for criminals. 

Such as in the infamous Rittenhouse Square murder of Sean Schellenger, where the unarmed 37 year-old real estate developer was stabbed to death by Michael White, who was wielding a knife with a six-inch blade, a crime caught on a cell phone video.

It should have been a slam-dunk murder case. But before the D.A.'s office went to trial, Krasner the career defense lawyer twice downgraded the charges against White. First, Krasner dropped a charge of first-degree murder down to third-degree murder. Then, on the eve of trial, Krasner dropped the third-degree charge down to voluntary manslaughter. When the case went to trial, White walked. 

Before the trial, Krasner had no time to meet with the mother of the murder victim. He cold-bloodedly informed her about the final downgrading the charges against White on the eve of trial in a terse telephone call. And when she objected, he screamed at her. 

But before Michael White went to trial, Krasner met with White and his lawyers behind closed doors for a couple of hours, so Krasner could coach and help prep the defendant for trial. 

Under Krasner's leadership, the mission of the D.A.'s office has been perverted to help criminals, and not crime victims. And while they're doing favors for criminals by reducing sentences for cons already in jail, the D.A.'s office under Krasner has a documented history of failing to notify crime victims as required by state law. A recent example involved the early release of the attempted murderer of a cop.

As one former career prosecutor fired by Krasner told me, "Larry Krasner doesn't give a fuck about victims." A couple of Krasner's former employees confirmed this.

Kathleen Hess is a former victims' advocate in the District Attorney's office for the families of murder victims. She stated in a social media post that got a lot of attention on Twitter that she resigned her position in 2018 because "victims were not feeling heard and they were not involved in the process involving the murder of their loved ones."

Hess said she loved her job in the D.A.'s office but she had to resign because "I could not fathom how he [Krasner] treated victims of crime."

"I have sat with families while they saw graphic images of their loved one's death, I have held them while they cried in my arms," she wrote. "I have listened to them speak about the heartache they feel everyday. I could no longer work somewhere that people impacted by the murder of their loved ones were treated so poorly."

"I could no longer stand behind an administration where they intentionally kept co-victims out of the discussions regarding plea bargains and sentencing," Hess wrote. "I may not have been able to change it, but I certainly would not be a part of it."

Another former employee in the D.A.'s office expressed similar sentiments.

"Larry Krasner doesn't care about victims, he sees them as an obstacle to his agenda," said Amanda Bee, an award-winning victim/witness coordinator in the homicide unit of the D.A.'s office who lost her job in January 2019, and was never told why.

"I don't believe that criminal justice reform and victims rights are mutually exclusive missions," she said.

Wondering what the D.A. has to say in response to this type of criticism? Keep wondering. As they have for the past year, Krasner and Jane Roh, his alleged spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. 

When it comes to granting interviews, Krasner prefers to deal with reporters who share his Progressive views, and don't ask any tough questions. Like his friends at the Inquirer who continue to cover for him, as recently as this past weekend when the city suffered through at least two dozen shootings, including a couple of 11 year-olds.

What did the Inky do? What they always do. They gave Krasner another pass, by continuing to pretend that his Progressive policies have nothing to do with the mounting carnage in the streets. 

While Krasner has been stonewalling this blog, Big Trial has previously documented some big favors that Krasner's D.A.'s office has done for criminals, such as:

-- a two-time convicted killer caught at a traffic stop with a gun and drugs, but Krasner's office set him free because of a legal dispute over a $25 traffic ticket;

--  a Haitian immigrant who beat, bit and strangled his girlfriend, and left her unconscious in a pool of her own urine. Instead of aiding the victim, Krasner's office came to the aid of her assailant, reducing the charges from assault and strangulation down to a couple of misdemeanors, so the Haitian immigrant could stay in the country;

--  a career burglar who had 27 new burglary cases against him dropped;

--  and finally, two armed and dangerous drug dealers who should have been in jail, but because of Krasner's permissive policies they were released and wound up murdering Corporal James O'Connor.

Krasner's office also has a deplorable record of ineptitude and permissiveness in prosecuting gun crimes that basically amount to a revolving door for gun-toting criminals, putting them right back on the streets.

When Big Trial tracked the D.A.'s handling of 236 arrests for carrying illegal guns in July 2019, as of March 16th, the last day the courts were open in Philadelphia, 66 of those cases, or nearly 28 percent, had either been dropped, dismissed or lost by the D.A.'s office.

Of those 236 gun cases, only 37 defendants to date, or 15.6 percent, have been found guilty. And all 37 were the result of plea bargains where every defendant got a sentence well below state sentencing guidelines for gun crimes. Of the 37 plea bargains, 17 defendants either got parole and walked immediately, or they got credit for time served and walked immediately.

Of those 236 gun cases, not a single case to date has resulted in a defendant being convicted by a judge or jury of being guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Of those 236 gun cases, only two cases ever made it to trial, and the D.A.'s office lost both cases.

When it came to seeking justice on behalf of the battered mother of Travon Register, the D.A.'s office under Krasner was similarly inept.

On March 24, 2018, after he repeatedly punched his girlfriend in the face five times, Brennan was arrested and charged with two third-degree felony counts of endangering the welfare of children, and three misdemeanor charges for possession of an instrument of crime, criminal mischief and simple assault. 

Brennan, 39, had a rap sheet. In 2003, he'd been sentenced to 11 1/2 to 23 months in jail and three years' probation, after he pleaded guilty to robbery and criminal conspiracy. Before that, in 1997, he did time after pleading guilty to simple assault, persistent disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment. 

But in 2018, on the same day he was arrested for beating his girlfriend, Brennan was released on $5,000 bail. When the case went to court, the witnesses against Brennan included the mother and her two six-year old sons, Savon and Travon.

But on April 4, 2018, the prosecution asked for a continuance because the victim failed to appear. On April 26, 2018, the prosecution asked for another continuance because the victim was reportedly unavailable to testify against her boyfriend.

A seasoned former prosecutor who examined the court records in this case ripped the prosecutor for "laziness or sheer incompetence."

"The average abuse victim doesn't want to come to court because they usually make up" with their abuser, the seasoned former prosecutor said. But, he said, a prosecutor has many tools available to handle a situation such as this. For starters, there are victims' advocates in the D.A.'s office, as well as counselors from Women Against Abuse, whose job it is to convince a woman make the difficult decision to testify against her abuser, to protect herself and her children.

The victim also could have been subpoenaed to appear in court. And if the victim didn't show up, the prosecutor could have asked the judge to issue a bench warrant to send a detective out to find the woman and bring her in to testify. 

"In that case you really have to go hard because those children were in danger," the seasoned former prosecutor said. The case also could conceivably have been put on in court without the victim. The children could have been called as witnesses, as well as the cops who arrested Brennan. 

But instead the D.A.'s office dropped the ball. On May 16, 2018, in front of Judge James Murray Lynn, the D.A.'s office withdrew all five charges against Brennan.

The assistant district attorney who handled the case according to court records was Sonam Vachhani, who did not respond to a request for comment. Vachhani worked for the D.A.'s office from May of 2017 until she resigned this past July. Her resignation was preceeded by some bad publicity.

On May 30th, while the city was under siege from rioters, looters and arsonists, Vachhani posted an Instagram message of a Philly cop standing next to a graffiti scrawl that said, "'FUCK THE COPS." The message was sent out under the hashtags #justiceforgeorgegloyd, #nojusticenopeace," and #blacklivesmatter."

Just two months after the D.A.'s office dropped the domestic violence charges against Brennan for assaulting his girlfriend, Brennan beat his girlfriend's six-year-old son to death.

On July 13. 2018, after floating an alibi about a slip and fall, Brennan gave a statement to detectives at the homicide division where he admitted to punching the boy in the right side or rib area. Why'd he hit Travon? Because, according to Brennan, the boy had peed on himself and vomited in his mother's bed. 

Both Travon and his twin brother Savon were born hearing-impaired. They attended the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, but on the day Travon was beaten to death, both boys were home on summer break. At approximately 11 a.m. that morning, their mother went to work as a cashier at Shop Rite. She left her two sons in Brennan's custody at their house on the 2100 block of South Daggett Street in Southwest Philadelphia. 

Brennan told the cops he punched the boy twice, and after that, the boy just laid back in bed and continued to watch TV.

Brennan told the cops that when he checked on Travon later, he was cold. Brennan sat the boy up and liquid spilled form his mouth. Brennan told the cops he changed the boy's clothes before he finally called the cops.

When paramedics arrived, they pronounced Travon dead and observed that rigor mortis had already set in.

Travon's mother subsequently told 6ABC, "As a mom, you shouldn't have to go through this. I was at work to keep a roof and food over our head and I wasn't paying attention to the little stuff."

Brennan told the cops he smoked two PCP cigarettes before he punched the boy. That same day the cops interviewed Brennan, they placed him under arrest and charged him with murder, as well as endangering the welfare of a child.

At a preliminary hearing on Oct. 23, 2018, Assistant Medical Examiner Emery took the witness stand to testify about the extent of Travon's injuries. 

Chesley Lightsey, the assistant district attorney, asked if all the boy's cuts and bruises were typical of a slip and fall, as Brennan had initially claimed to police.

No way, Dr. Emery said, because the boy's injuries were "everywhere." She talked about how Travon's body was covered with "bruises that you could see on the external surface," bruises that were "essentially coalescing, all coming together on one big contusion on all four surfaces of the extremities."

The boy's right arm, Dr. Emery said, was "just a coalescing hemorrhage." His legs, feet and torso were covered with multiple scrapes and bruises. He had multiple fractures on both sides of his ribs, with a total of four broken ribs. 

His sternum was fractured. His lungs were bruised and lacerated. His left lung was punctured and collapsed. His liver and spleen were lacerated. His stomach, which on the exterior had "very distinctive bruising," was full of blood, the medical examiner said. The injury to the boy's right kidney, which the doctor said was "definitely related to some sort of trauma," was "almost cut in half."

The boy's most puzzling injury, the medical examiner said, was "very unusual" bruises on the palm of his left hand that all came together into one "big deep contusion." 

"We don't see that very often," the medical examiner said, prompting speculation that the boy may have been using his hand to defend himself.

Dr. Emery described most of the injuries as having occurred "within a matter of hours," except for the "liver laceration," which occurred approximately three to five days earlier.

The liver laceration, Dr. Emery said, could by itself have been fatal. But before the child was beaten to death, she said, he would have suffered breathing problems, belly pain, an upset stomach, fatigue and bleeding. He was also probably throwing up for days before he was beaten to death, the medical examiner testified.

She estimated that Travon lived for between two and eight hours after his last beating. 

So after Brennan confessed, did the D.A.'s office seek justice for six-year-old Travon? Did they take the defendant to trial and put him away for life on a first-degree murder charge?

Nope, the D.A.'s office under Krasner did what it usually does, it cut a deal with the defendant that turned out to be a bargain.

On March 20, 2019, before Judge Kathryn Streeter Lewis, the D.A.'s office dropped the charge of first-degree murder as part of a negotiated deal where Brennan pleaded guilty to third-degree murder as well as endangering the welfare of a child.

In court, Assistant D.A. Lightsey gave the judge a summary of the boy's injuries, as itemized by the medical examiner. They included:

-- a dozen cuts and bruises on his face and head;

-- 22 cuts and bruises on his torso;

--  eight rib fractures and a fractured sternum;

-- 16 bruises and cuts on his back, buttocks and chest;

-- three pulmonary contusions and two lacerations to his lungs;

--  cuts and bruises on his liver and spleen, a laceration to his liver and two lacerations of his spleen;

 -- and finally, a laceration on the right kidney "that was a near transection," the prosecutor said.

At the sentencing hearing, the prosecutor read a letter to the judge written by Dana Walker, Travon's great aunt. Walker talked about the "very special bond" that existed between the twin boys, and how "watching Savon deal with the loss of his brother has been extremely hard."

"To see Savon cry when he thinks of his brother," Walker wrote. "Savon plays with his action men figures as if he was playing with Travon. When he is out shopping, he always picks out something for Travon, also."

"There will be no more birthdays, family gatherings or holidays for Travon," Walker wrote. "There will be no more hugs or saying the words 'I love you' for Travon. Travon cannot speak for himself and that is why I am writing this letter to you."

"When I see Michael Brennan in court and he showed no signs of remorse, I felt nothing but anger, which made me pray for his soul, since it appeared he had none," Walker wrote.

The prosecutor read another letter to the judge from Pamela Prophet, Travon's great aunt.

"I still can't wrap my head around what on earth could any six-year-old do that would cause an adult to beat him or her to death," Prophet wrote. "Sadly, that's what this person did."

In her letter, Prophet went into more detail about the "traumatic impact" Travon's death has had on his twin brother. Through therapy, Savon "is now beginning to talk about how he witnessed the death of his brother," Prophet wrote. 

"He constantly talks about how Mr. Mike is bad," she wrote. "From time to time, Savon will just break out and start crying. Because it is hard for him to explain his feelings or emotions, he will just shrug his shoulders and continue crying until he gets himself together."

Eleven days before Brennan was sentenced, Savon celebrated his seventh-birthday on March 9, 2018, without his twin brother.  When they asked what he wanted for his birthday, Prophet wrote, Savon said "He wanted his twin brother, Travon."

"Of course this broke our hearts because his twin brother should be here with us alive and well," Prophet wrote. "Your Honor, whatever time is imposed on Mr. Brennan wouldn't be enough to bring our Travon back. Going to prison gives him a pass because he still gets to live while our sweet, precious Travon will no longer grace this earth with his presence, because he was brutally murdered by this person whom you will be sentencing shortly."

"Mr. Brennan, may you spend the rest of your life in jail so that this will never happen to another child under your watch," Prophet wrote.

But when it came time to sentence Brennan, the D.A.'s office ignored the wishes of the victim's family. Because Larry Krasner doesn't care about victims.

In her letter to the judge, Travon's mother wrote about the "senseless act of violence" that cost her a son, and his twin a brother. She also talked about her boys' early struggles.

"Travon was born premature at 34 weeks and had to spend about a week and half at Einstein Hospital in an incubator until he was able to keep his body temperature up enough for him to come home," the mother wrote. "Travon and his twin brother were released on a heart monitor for the first two months of their lives."

"At this time I was still in school," she wrote. "I later finished my last year while also taking care of my sick mother and my two disabled, hard of hearing children."

"Even though it may have been a lot to deal with as a new mother, I never let it overwhelm me," she wrote. "I graduated on time with both of my boys at my side while maintaining a full-time job and caring for my mom."

"I never neglected neither one of my children, which is evident by how well they were cared for," she wrote. "They both were enrolled at Pennsylvania School for the Deaf by the age of two, learning not only to talk, but to use American Sign Language as well in order to be able to communicate."

"Even though we didn't have much, we had each other and that was all we needed to be a family. But now my family is torn apart."

"I think about Travon every second of every day and the memories we share. It hurts so much," she said. "I was not there that night Travon was murdered and I will always have to live with that. Living with the thought that I was not there when he needed me the most is a feeling that I wish no mother should have to bear."

As a consequence of Travon's murder and "trusting someone that I thought I could," the mother lost custody of her other son.

"To spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and their birthday and mine without them has been the absolute worst thing I had to endure in my while life," she wrote. "To know my son had to fight for his life, to see his body in that casket still eats at me to this day. I haven't been able to sleep since, because every time I close my eyes, all I can see is my Travon."

Roger Schrading, Brennan's defense lawyer, told the judge that the defendant had his own tragic history as an abused child. 

When Brennan was born, his mother was addicted to drugs and alcohol, the defense lawyer said. As a youth, Brennan was sexually and physical abused by an uncle when he was 10 years old. At 11, Brennan attempted suicide. At 12, he was returned to his mother's custody, who sexually abused him. At 16, he was homeless. 

When it came time for the defendant to speak, Brennan told the judge there wasn't "really too much I can say to change the facts of the situation that occurred."

"And sorry ain't really cutting it too much, but that's pretty much the only thing -- I can't ask for forgiveness because you can't forgive something like that." 

But Brennan did apologize "for putting everybody through the situation like this. It should have never really happened, regardless of what I was going though," he said, before repeating, "I apologize."

As part of the negotiated plea, the judge sentenced Brennan to 20 to 40 years for third-degree murder and 5 to 10 years for child endangerment. The two sentences were to be served consecutively, for a total of 25 to 50 years. 

To the seasoned former prosecutor, Brennan got off easy because third-degree murder is by definition an unintentional homicide. But what Brennan did to Travon was deliberate.

"He beat that child to death," the seasoned former prosecutor said. When you consider the horrific injuries, and the suffering the boy endured before he died, the seasoned former prosecutor said, Brennan should have been tried and convicted of first degree murder, the penalty for which is either death or life  without parole.

Instead, by the time Savon Register turns 31, his twin brother's killer will have already been paroled. 


  1. This post will forever end the accusations that you, Ralph, do not care about the poor, maladjusted underbelly of Society. I would further suggest that the Mother, in this case, must bear responsibility in permitting her criminal deviant sociopath partner to care for these children.

    From the tale that you have woven, it should be obvious that there was a long history and pattern of abuse in this household and just as the woman took her beatings and continued the "life" it is quite probable that she inflicted routine harm on the child, as well.

    70% of AA Households raise children without fathers, and this Post reflects the cruel reality that there are countless examples of black lives don't matter to themselves, and how can we be shocked about the chaos and dysfunction they infect their own lives and why Planned Parenthood serves to shield Society from this malignant disorder of parenthood amongst those totally incapable of performing responsibilities and being good parents and citizens.

    In This Case, DA Krasner is the Victim of a failed Social Experiment that is far beyond his Position and Paygrade.

  2. Ralph, this is very sad and tragic for the victim. his twin brother and family members. The pain and suffering for this family is intensified, callously and heartlessly, by the conduct and decisions rendered by our District Attorney and his staff.

    With your permission, I would like to fax this story and its horrific professional conduct and heart wrenching pain and suffering to the executive offices of both the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Lenfest Institute of Journalism DAY AFTER DAY until the journalists and professionals at those two news media organizations publish the facts and issues in this tragedy so that all Philadelphia citizens are made aware of the consequences of decisions made by their public officials.

    Michael Skiendzielewski, Captain (Retired), P.P.D.

  3. Mike, you don't need my permission but if you want it, you've got it. I don't know if it will do any good. They are all committed left-wing Progressive ideologues down there, and, like the Titanic, they're not going to change course.

    1. But they are doing something in the Titanic tradition resulting from their failing and flailing understanding and perspective......i.e, rearranging the deck chairs.

  4. Ever wonder what happened with Ms. Register's cases...

  5. Watch the city emergency meeting held yesterday on YouTube, poor old Larry even attempted to produce some crocodile tears when talking about a murdered child. Thankfully I was able to move out, I feel sorry for the people who are stuck. They get nothing in return for their tax dollars.

  6. I was a DA for 10 years ( 1988-1998) under Abraham , I spent 5 years in homicide. I am absolutely disgusted to read this story. I hope you do not mind but I re-tweeted it and also posted it on Linkdin. This is a story that needs to get out and be seen by many as our local media does not care.


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