The case of

Dennis Britton (father), Marlene Britton (Mother) and Jason Britton (Brother) 

Victim

Dennis Britton (father), Marlene Britton (Mother) and Jason Britton (Brother) 

Victim Race

Caucasian

Victim Date of Birth
Victim Age
Date Reported
Date of Death

1989-03-22

Case Status

Closed

Incident Location

Poughkeepsie, New York

Body Location

Poughkeepsie, New York

Date of Conviction

1989-03-22

Body Discovered Date

1989-03-22

Murderer

Brian Britton

Who is Brian Britton?

The Britton family consisted of Dennis, Marlene, Sherry, Brian, and Jason; they lived in Poughkeepsie, New York. They seemed like a very close family to others.

16-year-old Brian Britton wanted to join the Marines after graduation, which his family hoped would teach him discipline and respect, changing him positively from the teenager acting out. He was obsessed with all things military; his room was full of camouflage outfits, gun magazines, hand grenades, and Chinese throwing stars, alongside several guns, which he was only allowed to use when given permission by his dad.

As he got older, his behaviors became more destructive. When he had his first girlfriend, the rule in the house was that the children could see their significant others on the weekend, only after their homework was finished. Brian was not a fan of this rule and would often yell things as I hate you, and I hope you die.

All of these behaviors may, in hindsight, be a cause for concern or quite clear red flags. However, the family often just assumed it was a rebellious teenage phase that Brian was going through and that it would eventually come to an end.

On January 22, 1989, Brian Britton’s girlfriend came to the house, bringing a bottle of vodka with her. After chugging the bottle of vodka, to see what would happen, he passed out. His father came home after his girlfriend called him, and took him to the hospital to get his stomach pumped. Had his father not come home, Brian would have died.

Murders

On March 22, 1989, Sherry was picked up by her dad from college at around 9 pm. Upon returning home, she hugged and kissed her parents goodnight, and after talking with her boyfriend on the phone, she fell asleep.

The next thing that Sherry Shafer remembers is waking up in the hospital; she had been shot twice, once in the abdomen and once in the head. Doctors told her there had been an accident after she kept asking what had happened.

Upon discovering the scene, the police entered the front door and found blood, hair, and bone all over and embedded in the wall.

In the master bedroom, they found 44-year-old Dennis; he was dead on the bed, having been shot in the face.

In the next room, they found Marlene and Jason, who were lying next to each other. Marlene’s nightgown was covered in blood; she had been shot in the chest. Jason was not shot, but his head had been crushed. A theory from the police was that his head had been hit with the gun. Jason eventually succumbed to his injuries, though he did not die immediately.

Lastly, 19-year-old Sherry Britton was discovered in her bed covered in blood. She had been shot twice, once in the head and once in the abdomen; she was still alive, but police were unsure if she would survive. Although it became apparent that Sherry was probably shot by the front door, she then went upstairs to the bathroom, washed her hands, and went back to bed.

Brian had gone to his uncle’s house next door after the incident, so the police caught up with him and questioned him. He initially told police that a masked intruder had broken into the house and killed his entire family. When the police challenged his story and asked him where the guns were, he immediately admitted to it and told them they would find the guns in the attic.

He immediately tried to justify his actions by claiming his parents were being abusive and not letting him out or allowing him to see his girlfriend. He was arrested on the same day of the murders.

Conviction

Brian Britton’s trial took place in 1990. The prosecution argued that Brian had killed because of his obsession with the military and war. The prosecution believed it was a planned attack and not a spur-of-the-moment act of rage, as was suggested by Brian. While the defense took the stance that Brian had been physically and mentally abused, they explained he had been forced to watch war movies with his dad.

He confessed to second-degree murder and assault, accepting a plea deal for a lesser sentence.

Brian Thomas Britton was subsequently convicted of the murder of 3 of his family members. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in Prison. While he was convicted for all three murders, these were not consecutive sentences, and instead, due to a plea agreement, he received a single life sentence. This is opposed to 3 concurrent 25 to life sentences, on top of an 8-15 year sentence for the attempted murder of his sister.

This has become a source of stress for Sherry as he was eligible for parole in 2014. In 2021 he was denied parole for the sixth time; rather than the standard two-year wait, his next parole hearing is scheduled for May 2023.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Is Brian Britton?

Brian Britton is a convicted family killer. He shot his entire family, killing his mum, dad, and younger brother, leaving only his older sister to survive.

Where Is Brian Britton Now?

Brian T. Britton is currently in the Fishkill Correctional Facility serving a 25 to life sentence for the family murders. He has been rejected for parole six times to date, and his next parole hearing is scheduled for May 2023.

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