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A Michigan Man Said His Missing 17-Year-Old Cousin Died While They Smoked Pot. He's Now in Prison for Murder.

Cousin of Missing Michigan Teen Sentenced for Her Murder
Source: Macomb County Jail; Detroit Police Department

Zion Foster (right) was reported missing in January 2022. Now, officials said her cousin, Jaylin Brazier (left), will spend at least 43 years behind bars for her murder.

Jun. 7 2024, Published 10:02 a.m. ET

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A 17-year-old Michigan girl has been missing since January 2022, and now her cousin has been sentenced in connection with her disappearance and murder, according to authorities.

On Jan. 4, 2022, Zion Foster left her home with her cousin, 24-year-old Jaylin Brazier, and never returned.

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Foster was reported missing by her mother to the Eastpointe Police Department the next day. Officers issued a missing person alert for the teenager several days later and investigators determined she was likely dead.

On Jan. 19, 2022, Brazier was identified as a person of interest in the case, and he turned himself in. Police said he initially withheld information from investigators about Foster’s whereabouts. According to police, he later claimed the two were smoking marijuana when Foster suddenly stopped breathing, so he placed her body in a dumpster, WDIV-TV reported.

According to Foster’s mother, Brazier claimed he hadn’t seen or heard from Foster in a long time. He then helped in the search effort to find the missing teenager, according to officials.

"Yes, I lied, but I was not in the right state of mind," Brazier later said in court, according to WDIV-TV. "There was no way for me to prepare for a situation like that. I was scared."

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Police excavated a landfill in an attempt to find Foster’s body, but the search was unsuccessful.

In March 2022, Brazier was convicted of lying to police and was sentenced to 23 months to four years in prison, according to WDIV-TV. He was reportedly released after accepting a plea deal, officials said.

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On June 13, 2023, Brazier was rearrested and charged with second-degree murder and tampering with evidence, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

Last month, a Wayne County jury deliberated for less than an hour before finding Brazier guilty, according to The Detroit News.

On June 3, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Donald Knapp sentenced Brazier to serve 38 to 90 years in prison for second-degree murder, and an additional five to 10 years for tampering with evidence, to be served consecutively, for the murder of his cousin.

Knapp said he believed Brazier had a poor chance of rehabilitation and has failed to accept responsibility for his actions.

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