MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Investigation Discovery network series "Blood Relatives" set its sights on a brutal Montgomery family murder for Thursday night's episode.
According to Investigation Discovery, the series explores the rifts in families that lead to extraordinary tragedies, and the Montgomery murder case involving the Bracknell family fits that description.
The 2013 murder of Tommy Bracknell is the focus of the documentary. Montgomery defense attorney Susan James was contacted by producers from the network six months ago for an interview.
"I think what drew the attention of the Hollywood folks: you've got a grandmother who died, a natural son the family believed killed her, and then you have two of her grandsons that kill her son, their uncle," James said. "They were a well-known family to the police, the police said they had been going out for the last 25 years."
According to James, the Bracknell family believed Tommy Bracknell killed his elderly mother, and he was brutally murdered days later. James defended one of the three suspects in his killing.
"It was sensation because the murder was so brutal, it was a terrible crime scene," James stated.
James said Tommy Bracknell was beaten to a pulp and left dead in a storage shed.
In 2013, Montgomery Police detectives says Bracknell's body was wrapped in bed sheets, stating he suffered blunt force trauma to his head and body.
Bracknell's nephews Mitchell and Brandon Bracknell pleaded guilty for their role in Tommy's death. James' client William Kyle Richards was found not guilty.
"It was a pretty dysfunctional family," James said. "Vindication for the family was supposed to come from the grandsons taking care of the uncle, but it turned out to be a trauma and tragedy for a local family. You ended up with three people were being prosecuted, others being exposed for their flaws and weaknesses, it a huge drama."
James said producers were very curious about how she built her defense.
"In fact when they interviewed us, they said 'how did this happen, how did you end up with a not guilty verdict,'" James stated. "I told them the state didn't prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt."
James said her client was never at the crime scene.
"Blood Relatives" hits home for James. Her sons were also involved in the case. Will Saucer was the investigator for her firm, and Garrett Saucer assisted with the defense.
"We had to get a family tree together to go through all this in the beginning," Will Saucer stated.
While the case is closed, many wonder whether the grandmother died of natural causes.
"Well, that's what they say, but we aren't so sure," James stated.
Investigation Discovery producers stated they were drawn to this case for a number of reasons.
"The Bracknell case stands out for being almost unbelievable yet also quite relatable," Sophia Asmuth with Investigation Discovery stated in an email. "The matriarchal structure and dynamics of the Bracknell household feel familiar. When the head of a household passes away, families do tend to fracture. The Bracknells did exactly that, but sadly they reached a point of no return."
Blood Relatives will air the Bracknell episode Thursday at 8 p.m.