Guilty Plea in 2021 Brunswick Murder:
State v. Bria Register & Michael Howard

13 April 2022

District Attorney (DA) Keith Higgins announces the entry of guilty pleas in the 2021 shooting of Javier Cordova, 17, of Brunswick. The pleas were entered pursuant to a plea agreement that was resolved between the DA’s Office and the defendants. Before the plea offers were extended, DA Higgins talked with the lead investigator and Cordova’s family. On April 5, 2021, Bria Nicole Register,29, of Brunswick, pled guilty to Voluntary Manslaughter in Glynn County Superior Court. Her co-defendant, Michael Howard, 43, also of Brunswick, pled guilty to Tampering with Evidence. Other charges against Register, which include Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony were nolle prossed and will not be prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred on April 16, 2021, when Cordova appeared, uninvited, at a cookout that was being held at the Coastal Crest Suites on Cypress Mill Road in Glynn County. No one at the cookout knew Cordova, who was intoxicated at the time. While at the cookout, Cordova tripped over a grill and knocked it over. While he was on the ground, Register saw that he had a handgun on his person, and she took it from him. After Register went to co-defendant Howard’s apartment in the same complex, Cordova came and banged on the door wanting to get his gun back. Cordova was led away from the apartment at least once by Howard, before returning again, banging on the door and asking for his gun. The last time he returned, Register was angry and she and Howard led Cordova to the side of Cypress Mill Road, where Register pistol-whipped Cordova. Register and Howard claimed that Register was acting in self-defense and further claimed that while Register was pistol-whipping Cordova, the gun accidentally fired. After the gun fired, Register and Howard left Cordova along the side of the road and did not call 911 to report the incident. Howard later returned to check on Cordova and saw he was dead. Cordova was shot once in the chest and died as a result of his wounds.

Following acceptance of the guilty plea to Voluntary Manslaughter in Glynn County Superior Court, Judge Stephen D. Kelley sentenced Register to 20 years, with the first 13 years in confinement and the remainder served on probation. For his plea of guilty to Tampering with Evidence, Judge Kelley sentenced Howard to 5 years probation, with 120-180 days to be served in a Probation Detention Center. The Glynn County Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation.

DA Higgins said that, “After talking with the victim’s family and the lead investigator, I decided it was best to extend a plea offer that resulted in the defendants being found guilty. If we had gone to trial, the jury would have been required to consider rendering a verdict for voluntary manslaughter before it considered the felony murder charge, and we would have been required to disprove Register’s claim of self-defense. Under the circumstances, the only evidence that could be presented about the defendants’ interaction with the victim could have only come from the defendants.”

Members of the media with further questions may contact the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at 912-554-7200.


Open Records Act Request: Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-18-71(b)(2), the Open Records Officer for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office is Cathy Browning. Written requests should be submitted to her via email at cbrowning@pacga.org or by mail to the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, Attention: Cathy Browning, 210 E. 4th St., Woodbine, GA 31569.
Media Policy: The Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney aims to scrupulously follow the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct. The office is not ethically allowed to answer many questions posed by reporters, whatever the journalistic merit. The office cannot, for example, discuss an accused party’s criminal history or speculate about the impact of a particular piece of evidence. These rules are in place to ensure a defendant’s rights to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.