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Karla Mendez Brada, struggling with addiction, sought help in an Alcoholics Anonymous program in California. She never could have imagined that through that recovery process she would fall in love with the man who would kill her.


Correspondent Maureen Maher and 48 HOURS investigate the death of Brada and how attending meetings that would change her life ultimately led to the end of her life, in “The Sober Truth,” to be broadcast Nov. 29, 2014 (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Maher also examines how judges around the country sentence some criminals to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and that AA’s own non-disclosure guidelines put them side-by-side to those who are vulnerable in recovery.


Brada’s family believes she was killed by the man she loved, a man with similar addictions, a man who, unbeknownst to her family, had a long criminal history. They met while both were in an AA program. More important, her family believes the murder was preventable.


After an almost fatal car crash, Karla voluntarily entered rehab and attended AA meetings.


“She had no other choice but to get help,” says Brada’s sister, Sasha.


“She went there to get help. Most people don’t expect to meet a predator,” says author Gabrielle Glaser, author of Her Best Kept Secret, published by Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS, which focuses on the increasing number of women using alcohol.


Brada was found bruised and battered in her bedroom on Sept. 1, 2011 after her boyfriend, Eric Earle, called police to say he found her dead. Earle told police he didn’t know what happened, but said the bruises could have been from a fall he said she took overnight while carrying laundry down a staircase. Police didn’t buy his story.


The path to Brada’s death began a few years earlier. Brada battled an addiction to alcohol and prescription pills, which she hid from her family until 2008, when she crashed her car while driving under the influence. She voluntarily entered rehab. After getting clean, Brada got her life back together and bought a condo in Santa Clarita, Calif. Soon, however, there were signs she was in trouble. She then voluntarily entered rehab again, where she was bussed daily to meetings of Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous at a place called “The Recovery Room.”


Earle was in a sober living facility that required him to attend AA meetings.  Soon Brada crossed paths with Earle. They fell in love, and he moved in with her.


Brada learned how bad it could get when Earle was drinking when he allegedly beat her.


“She thought she had found a safe partner who was on the same path,” says Glaser. “She found a controlling, vicious man.”


“When he was under the influence of alcohol, he was a very abusive person,” says Deputy District Attorney Elena Abramson. “And he would attack anyone.”


But could Abramson prove Brada didn’t die from a fall?


The investigation into what happened to Brada would expose Earle’s history and the risks of a recovery system that mixes convicted criminals in with the general population. That mixing, done without the knowledge of many of those new to AA meetings, has the potential to be deadly. The investigation also looks at what some AA members refer to as the secret “13th step” at some recovery meetings, where male members take advantage of vulnerable women.


AA has been giving emotional support to people battling alcoholism since 1935, with people around the world finding comfort and support at AA meetings. In an e-mail to 48 HOURS, AA leadership said that “members share as much or as little as they wish about their past with other AA members.” The organization added, “there are no rules or policies regarding such things.”


Maher and 48 HOURS also talk with other women about sexual harassment at AA. Alcoholics Anonymous officials would not comment on Brada’s death, and would only allow 48 HOURS cameras in to film the office hallways and an in-house AA museum.


“If Karla hadn’t gone to those meetings, if she hadn’t gone through that process,” says her sister, Sasha, “she would have never met him and she’d still be here.”


48 HOURS: “The Sober Truth” is produced by James Stolz. Gayane Keshishyan is development producer. Lauren Clark is the field producer. Peter Schweitzer is the senior producer. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.


Chat with members of the 48 HOURS team during the broadcast on Twitter and Facebook. Follow 48 HOURS on Instagram



Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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