The attorneys for Nashika Bramble argued that she was legally responsible for her children’s deaths by negligence, locking them in a car with no food or water, but said it was a religious leader and manipulative narcissist by the name of Madani Ceus who persuaded her to do it.
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 — and said once Ceus had singled her out as “unclean,” Bramble 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.”
The ultimate question is how much blame a cult victim should bear if she was pressured into doing something criminal. The brainwashing can’t be ignored, but neither should the fact that only one person committed the act.
Bramble’s defense team claimed Ceus was a cult leader who worked to separate the kids from their mother since they first arrived at the compound, and that there was no way Bramble had complete control over her actions. They 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.
The defense team brought in cult expert Janja Lalich to testify, and she explained that cults work only through devotion to a charismatic figure like Ceus. Still, it wasn’t enough to save Bramble. She was eventually convicted.
Ceus’ trial date is pending.