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Grand jury indicts Titusville woman on murder charges following death of son, his friend

A Brevard grand jury indicted a Titusville woman on two counts of first-degree murder by distribution of a controlled substance following the July 2021 deaths of her son and his friend.

On July 18th of last year, Titusville police responded to an apartment, where they discovered two men who appeared to have died from a possible overdose, an arrest affidavit said. 

Vessels told police she and her son, Austin Vessels, 25, were at her apartment, “partying and using cocaine,” the affidavit said. Her son asked if she could get more cocaine, and she and her son met up with a dealer she used to know, purchasing, what Brandi Vessels believed to be $300 worth of cocaine.

Vessels gave the cocaine to her son, the affidavit said. Back at her apartment, her son met up with his friend, Matthew Taylor, 39. The two men went to Austin Vessel’s apartment, where they were found dead the next morning by Austin Vessel’s father.

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Brandi Vessels told police prior to the death of her son and his friend, she texted her son multiple times, but didn’t receive a response, the affidavit said. She went to his apartment to check on him but didn’t receive an answer.

She told police she gave the men the drugs that killed them and she should have known there was something in them besides cocaine, as she believed the price she was charged was higher than normal.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement tested the narcotics found next to Austin Vessel’s body, the affidavit said. The white, powdery substance tested positive for fentanyl.

The medical examiner reported the manner of both deaths were accidental, with Austin Vessel’s cause of death listed as cocaine and fentanyl toxicity, the affidavit said. Taylor’s cause of death was listed as ethanol and fentanyl toxicity.

Brandi Vessels was arrested Jan. 25 after making a statement to the police. In addition to two charges of first-degree murder by distribution of a controlled substance, she faces a charge of sales or delivery of fentanyl, which is a second-degree felony.

She is being held without bond at the Brevard County Jail. A trial date has not been set. Michael Mario Pirolo with the Brevard County Public Defender’s office was unavailable to comment Wednesday.

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