Man guilty in death that was once ruled suicide His admission proves victim's mother was right

September 12, 1997|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

Mary Chambers never believed what Baltimore County police told her about her daughter's death -- that Brandy Lynn Noel committed suicide in May 1996 by shooting herself in the head.

Yesterday, police detectives' original theory of suicide was proved wrong as a 20-year-old West Virginia man pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of the 16-year-old Dundalk girl.

Nicholas Jachelski -- who faces a possible 10-year sentence -- admitted participating in Noel's death during a Russian roulette game at the Dundalk home of a Jachelski relative, where Noel had spent the night.

"If you knew Brandy like we knew Brandy, you'd know she didn't commit suicide. She had too much going for her," said Chambers.

She said her daughter was a talented artist who had been offered a scholarship to study art in Philadelphia.

Chambers also disputed reports that her daughter was a runaway at the time of her death. She also said that the autopsy report showed no drugs or alcohol in the girl's body.

According to a statement of facts, read yesterday by Assistant State's Attorney Andy Alperstein, the shot that killed Noel was fired by a teen-age boy who was playing Russian roulette with Jachelski. Jachelski admitted stealing the gun used in Noel's death from a home in Grafton, W.Va.

Knowing only one bullet was in the gun's chamber, Jachelski pulled the trigger several times while aiming it at himself, the other teen-age boy and Noel -- but it did not fire.

The teen-age boy then took the gun and fired it at Noel, who was lying on a bed. The bullet struck her on the right side of her head and killed her.

The two covered up the killing by placing the gun in Noel's right hand and wiping off fingerprints.

Alperstein would not reveal the outcome of the juvenile case against the teen-ager who pulled the trigger, who is from Dundalk and is now 16, because juvenile files are sealed from the public.

The dead girl's mother said Jachelski's brief appearance and admission of the crime yesterday brought great relief to the family.

"I feel better there's closure. It's sad this guy at 20 years of age has to get the rap when the juvenile is the one who pulled the trigger," she said.

Chambers sat in the back of the courtroom during the hearing, holding back tears and clutching her daughter's death certificate with a corrected cause of death -- from "suicide" to "homicide."

She said she spent months arguing with homicide detectives over the case before an informant, eight months after Noel died, told police that Noel's death was a homicide.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Robert E. Cadigan said he will sentence Jachelski at a date to be scheduled.

Pub Date: 9/12/97

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