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Son pleads guilty to murder

WILLIAMSTOWN — A Grant County man pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to the murder of his parents last November.

Russell G. Bramlage, 23, was indicted in April on several charges, including two counts of murder in the deaths of Terry and Lynda Bramlage, both 53. Police found their bodies in the basement of their Williamstown home on Nov. 13, 2007, but investigators have said they think the slayings occurred earlier. Both had been shot twice with a shotgun.

On Wednesday, the prosecution recommended that Russell Bramlage serve a life sentence for each murder count. Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Crawford said the family did not want the death penalty because "he was still a brother, he's still a nephew."

"It's still hard for them to believe," Crawford said.

Prosecutors also recommended 20 years for a first-degree robbery charge, to which Bramlage entered an Alford plea, meaning he did not admit guilt but acknowledged that there was enough evidence to find him guilty if he went to trial. Prosecutors also recommended that he serve five years each on charges of tampering with physical evidence and criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Bramlage also faced charges in Boone County that stemmed from stolen rifles and a shotgun, and a forged check from his parents' account. Prosecutors in Grant County have been in communication with Boone County prosecutors regarding the plea agreement for the Boone County Charges. Prosecutors recommended one to five years for second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and five years for three counts of theft by unlawful taking. Prosecutors said Bramlage will still need to formally enter a plea in Boone Circuit Court at a later date.

During the hearing, Circuit Court Judge Stephen Bates asked Bramlage whether he understood his mental health evaluation. Crawford said he did not know the results of the evaluation, but "I would assume that those evaluations did not indicate anything else other than what we have thought ... all along, ... that this man was of sound mind when all of this happened, and knew exactly, for whatever reason, knew what he was doing."

Crawford declined to discuss a motive for the shooting.

"Part of what we are doing here is giving the family closure on this," he said. "We want to end this without having to put them through all the gory details of what happened out there."

Terry and Lynda Bramlage had lived in Grant County for only a few years. Terry Bramlage had a Kenton County dental practice and was also an avid sportsman. Lynda Bramlage enjoyed landscaping and home decorating. She was also a volunteer with St. Elizabeth Hospice in Edgewood.

Terry Bramlage was last seen at his dental practice Friday, Nov. 9. His office called police when he did not show up for work the following Monday morning.

Bramlage's family was in the courtroom Wednesday but quickly left after his guilty plea. Bramlage's sister and two brothers signed the plea agreement.