A Colorado mother who was also a member of a doomsday cult known as "The Family" was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison without parole for letting her two young, and supposedly "unclean," daughters be banished and die from excessive heat and starvation while trapped in her Toyota sedan.
Nashika Bramble, 38, received her sentence in Montrose District Court on Tuesday for her role in the 2017 deaths of Makayla Roberts, 10, and Hannah Marshall, 8. She was convicted back in July on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of child abuse resulting in death.
“One for each daughter,” said Montrose District Judge Keri Yoder as she handed down the punishment, which she characterized as “symbolic,” according to The Montrose Press.
Authorities found the sisters’ bodies inside Bramble’s tarp-covered 1999 Toyota sedan parked on a former marijuana farm owned by Frederick “Alec” Blair in Norwood, Colorado, the outlet reported.
“You are no wallflower,” the judge thundered, dismissing Bramble’s defense that she was severely brainwashed by the swaying powers of the cult’s alleged leader, Madani Ceus, a Haitian woman who also was known by the shorthand “Ceus,” “Ama,” or “Yahweh.”
“We did state in court that we were going to appeal,” Bramble’s court-appointed attorney, Harvey Palefsky, told Oxygen.com. “That’s where we stand now.”
Palefsky explained that Bramble was a lowly follower in “The Family,” which formed in the summer of 2017 and anxiously awaited the historic Aug. 21 solar eclipse, which they faithfully believed would beam them into another spiritual realm.
In preparation of the supposed apocalyptic event, Ceus allegedly decided that Bramble’s daughters were “unclean” and ordered them to be left alone in their mother's car and off-limits to other members who might be compelled to nourish them with food or water, according to court testimony.
After the girls died from what a pathologist testified as heat, thirst and starvation, Blair and Ceus’s husband, Ashford Archer, allegedly attempted to cloak the car with a tarp.
On Sept. 9, one day after the two girls’ corpses were located by authorities, a pregnant Bramble, who had fled to Grand Junction, Colorado, surrendered to authorities. Farm owner Frederick "Alec" Blair, Ceus, Ika Eden and Ashford Archer also turned themselves in that same day.
Bramble's lawyer tried to argue that Bramble was actually defenseless against the influence of Ceus by having a renowned cult expert from California testify in court.
“In my closing argument I explained that Ceus controlled everything and threatened everyone on the property, including Ms. Bramble, with threats of reaping their souls and telling them they would be going to hell for damnation,” he said.
The jury was unswayed, reaching a guilty verdict after less than an hour of deliberation, according to The Montrose Press.
Ceus’s trial is slated to begin in Gunnison on Jan. 13, 2020, records show.
Beyond Bramble, two other Family members, Archer and Blair, were convicted in connection to the death of Bramble’s daughters.
In June, Archer was sentenced to 24 years in prison after being convicted of all charges against him, including child abuse resulting in death and accessory to a crime, The Montrose Press reported. Blair, who pleaded guilty to an accessory charge in May 2018, is expected to be sentenced on Oct. 31.
Another suspect, Eden, was charged with child abuse resulting in the death of the girls, but was considered too incompetent for trial, according to The Montrose Press.
Bramble was initially being confined in Gunnison County Jail. She was moved back in July to San Miguel County Jail, joining her fellow co-defendants Blair, Ceus and Archer, a jail official confirmed.
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