As family of slain mother awaits trial, husband's attorney floats self-defense theory

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A year ago this month, Brandy Sullivan’s daughter told 911 dispatchers that her mother had been killed. The suspect: Brandy’s estranged husband, Adam.

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In a state that leads the nation in the rate of women killed by men, the Feb. 16, 2017 shooting touched off calls for domestic violence law reform and questions of why prosecutors dropped an earlier felony charge against Adam Sullivan. Today, lawyers on both sides are preparing for a murder trial, with a twist.

Brandy’s sister, Tina Novotny, said prosecutors and defense lawyers have agreed to an October bench trial, meaning the case will be decided by a judge, rather than a jury of Adam Sullivan’s peers. Attorneys for the husband, meantime, recently filed a motion that hints at potential lines of defense for the 41-year-old father.

“Brandy was very likely volatile and violent and Adam may have been acting in self-defense and/or she may have hit Adam with a deadly weapon causing him to lose consciousness,” Phillip Weidner wrote in a motion filed in January.

The attorney wrote that a child’s crutch was found near Brandy’s body and “is believed to have been used to hit Adam.”

Novotny said her family looks forward to the trial date and dismissed any attempt by the defense to shift blame from Adam. “It's pretty pathetic that he's trying to do that route and can't man up to what he actually did,” she said.

An attorney for Adam Sullivan did not immediately return a call for comment.

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