Grandparents found guilty in international kidnapping of grandson

- UPDATE 5/25 9:37 am: Grandparents, Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes have been found guilty of international kidnapping and not guilty of conspiracy.

Chris Brann was on the witness stand all day on Tuesday telling jurors how he never would have consented to allow his son Nico to go to Brazil if he’d known his ex-wife wasn’t going to return him. For much of the morning, the jury heard mostly about Brann’s background -- how he was a Boy Scout, completed his undergraduate college degree in three years, worked as a missionary with a church group for two years in Argentina, was a virgin until meeting his wife and is an internal medicine doctor. 

However, defense attorneys say Brann was physically and emotionally abusive to Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes’ daughter Marcelle and according to the defense, the grandparents are not guilty of international kidnapping but rather, aided their daughter and their grandson Nico in escaping a violent man.   

In an audio recording played in court, Brann is on the tape telling Marcelle he hasn’t been abusive to her, they’ve been abusive to each other.  

Marcelle Guimaraes took Nico to Brazil when he was three years old for her brother’s wedding in 2013 and she has never returned with him. The grandparents were arrested in February after flying into Miami from Brazil.  

On the witness stand, Brann told jurors that he and his ex-wife did have problems and sometimes “fought.” He said he smashed a cell phone once when he and his wife were going through therapy and she was “paranoid” and insisting to see his phone.  

Brann also said he slapped his ex-wife once when she grabbed him by the genitals and later threw her onto the bed when she wouldn’t let him leave the room. Brann also said on the witness stand that he bent a laptop back until it broke because he and his wife had been arguing about him watching pornography.

“Everybody has a tipping point," Brann told jurors. "In my moments of frustration, I punched the drywall (in our bedroom). I’m not proud of that. I just felt there was no way she was letting me out of that room.” He said he punched holes in the wall on two different occasions.

Marcelle’s father once called the police on Brann saying Brann was trying to break into his daughter's Houston home. Brann said he was simply ringing the doorbell, knocking and opened the garage, not because he was being violent but because he feared his ex had taken his son out of the country.  

A few months after that, Marcelle did take Nico to Brazil and still hasn’t returned, although she too is charged along with her parents.    

If the grandparents are found guilty, they each face up to five years in prison. The trial will resume on Wednesday morning with testimony continuing through May 25.

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