Brandon Clark, the man suspected of murdering 17-year-old Bianca Devins and posting photos of her body on Discord and Instagram, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. He faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Clark, 21, is accused of killing Devins in the early morning hours of July 14. According to Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara, Clark, 21, met Devins on Instagram about two months earlier and they developed a relationship. (A friend of Devins, however, has disputed this characterization to Rolling Stone, saying that Devins considered Clark more of a friend.)
While investigators are still piecing together a motive, McNamara said that the night before Devins’ murder, Clark and Devins had driven down from Utica, New York to a Nicole Dollenganger concert in Brooklyn. While the two had plans to drive back together, McNamara told Utica news outlet WKTV that Clark grew enraged when he saw Devins kissing another boy at the concert. This was confirmed in part by Discord chats between Devins and a friend timestamped a few hours before her murder, which were provided to Rolling Stone.
“I have a very hard time understanding how anybody can justify taking another young person’s life because they kissed somebody else,” McNamara told Utica news outlet WKTV.
At about 6 a.m on July 14th, Clark posted an extremely graphic photo on a Discord server of what appeared to be Devins with a wound on her neck, accompanied by a misogynistic message. He also posted images on his Instagram story alluding to his intention to self-harm. Concerned Discord users reported the image to Utica police. Clark himself also called the police, and reportedly made “incriminating statements” about his involvement in her death. Police found Devins already deceased and Clark in critical condition with self-inflicted wounds in his neck.
The Devins case sparked a great deal of controversy on social media, in part because of rumors speculating that an anonymous man who had stalked Devins had murdered her after she’d rebuffed his advances. Images of Devins’ body also went viral on Instagram, with many people creating dummy accounts to share the photos in order to gain “clout,” or more likes and followers. Though some Instagram users attempted to flood the platform with photos of pink clouds, along with the hashtag #pinkcloudsforbianca, many argued that Instagram did not do enough to curb the spread of the photos.
In an eerie coincidence, Syracuse.com reported that Clark’s father, Jason Clark, had been taken into custody in 2010 after holding his wife at knifepoint for 10 hours in their home. (Brandon was not present at the time, and did not witness the attack.) According to court papers, he had suspected his wife of cheating on him and held her hostage, beating her and threatening to cut her throat before police stormed their home. “I thought he was going to kill me,” she said at the time. Clark was subsequently charged with felony assault and criminal possession of a weapon, among other charges. He ultimately served just two to four years in prison.
In a statement sent to Rolling Stone, Devins’ family described 17-year-old Bianca as a talented artist who had just graduated from high school and was looking forward to attending community college in the fall. “Bianca’s smile brightened our lives. She will always be remembered as our Princess,” the statement read.
Brandon Clark is currently being held in prison without bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for September 16th.