Sister charged with murder after woman stabbed to death

Victim called Jacksonville Sheriff's Office minutes before

Mary Brantley (pictured in inset in 2009 booking photo) is charged with murder.
Mary Brantley (pictured in inset in 2009 booking photo) is charged with murder.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The sister of a woman found stabbed to death inside her bedroom in a home in the McGirts Creek neighborhood has been charged with murder, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office announced Monday. 

Mary Brantley, 41, is being held without bond at the Duval County Jail, according to jail records. 

The victim, 44-year-old Latonya Brantley, was found dead after calling police minutes earlier to report her sister Mary was mentally ill and breaking things inside the house, Lt. Steve Gallaher said at a news conference Monday afternoon. 

When officers arrived, Gallaher said, they were met at the door by Mary Brantley, who was covered in blood. She was taken into custody. 

Mary Brantley was scheduled to have her arraignment hearing Saturday morning but police said she became combative when they went to move her from the jail. As officers began to place her in restraints, she said, "Why those gotta go on my feet" and tried to snatch the restraints away, according to an arrest report.

Mary Brantley then struck one of the officers in the face with both of her hands open, which caused the officer to "lose control of the restraints," the arrest report said. 

That's when a second officer used pepper spray to get hold of the restraints, JSO said. But Mary Brantley continued to snatch the restraints away, so the officer then used a Taser to subdue her, according to the report. 

She now faces an additional charge of aggravated battery on a security officer, jail records show. 

Her next hearing is scheduled for April 18.

Family members confirmed to News4Jax that Mary Brantley has a history of mental illness, and her sister Latonya, who was a nurse, tried to care for her.

Mary Brantley was legally ruled incapacitated in 2012, and Latonya Brantley was appointed her guardian.

Latonya Brantley called the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office non-emergency line Friday morning just before 7 a.m. to ask for help.

Police said calls about disturbances are common, and the caller didn't seem like she was in great danger.

But in the 10 minutes it took officers to get to Brantley's house on Sarahs View Court, JSO said, Latonya Brantley was stabbed with a kitchen knife and killed.

News4Jax learned that Mary Brantley has been committed for psychiatric evaluation 16 times dating back to 2004. She was twice committed by emergency order and her father also filed a petition detailing the severity of her mental health and asking the state to step in. 

Mary Brantley was arrested in 2009 for an incident in which she went to her daughter's school to try to pick her up. She did not have primary custody and was refused access to the girl. She became irate, and police were called. It was the third incident of its type at the school.

The arrest report said Mary Brantley suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and was refusing to take her medications. Her father told the court that without a court order, she will not seek medical attention and could pose a danger to herself and others.

She also complained of hearing voices and would often scream and holler out, according to the petition. Her behavior got so bad that she was not allowed near her 7-year-old daughter, her father said.

The petition was just one of the many efforts to prevent Mary Brantley from harming herself or anyone else, but four years after moving in with her sister, she was arrested for her murder.

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