Judge ruled the doctrine for protecting self, others did not apply in shooting
By Sally Voth -- email@example.com
WOODSTOCK -- Jody Lynn Bradley will likely appeal his second-degree murder conviction, his defense attorney, Gene Hart, said late last week.
On Aug. 20, a Shenandoah County Circuit Court jury found Bradley guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of his daughter's boyfriend, Brendon Manning Barker, 16, on Jan. 6. Jurors recommended he serve nine years in prison, outraging Barker's family and Bradley's daughter, Sarah, 17, who wanted a longer sentence.
Bradley, 48, of 189 Wakemans Grove Road, Edinburg, will serve an additional three years for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
"We were hoping for acquittal, and we've got a couple of appeal issues," Hart said.
Those are related to Judge Dennis L. Hupp's ruling that jurors couldn't be instructed on the castle doctrine or the defense of others, said Hart, who is unsure if he'd be representing Bradley on appeal.
With the jury out of the courtroom on Aug. 19, Hart argued that Bradley believed Barker was supplying Sarah Bradley with methamphetamine, leading him to reasonably feel she was in danger of great bodily harm.
Sarah Bradley has testified, and stated in a later interview, that she did no drugs harder than marijuana, and that she supplied Barker more often than he supplied her. Moreover, she said in a post-trial interview, Barker encouraged her to cut down her pot smoking.
Hupp said Sarah Bradley had exited the attic where her father shot Barker and was not in imminent danger of harm from the boy. Protecting someone else in the home relates to self-defense, anyway, he said.
While a draft castle doctrine was before the 2008 General Assembly, it did not pass, Hart said. But, he said, Barker was in Bradley's home, from which he'd been barred, at night and in a crouched position, and his client believed he was in imminent danger of bodily harm.
Hupp said Bradley's action wasn't to keep an intruder out of his home, and self-defense allows the degree of physical force necessary to protect yourself and others, not any degree of force.
Hart said Bradley's family was "relieved" this stage of his case was over.
"We're going to respect the verdict even though we respectfully disagree with it," he said. "That jury clearly took their instructions to heart and had a difficult time with a difficult case."
When Bradley is sentenced Nov. 18, the judge can suspend some of the recommended time if he wishes, but cannot raise it, Hart said.
"If he does not suspend any of the sentence, he can provide for post-release supervision of up to three years, and also put a period of suspended jail time of up to three years if he puts him on post-release supervision," he said.
Hart addressed issues raised by one of the jurors who said another panel member "blackmailed" them into giving Bradley a lighter sentence than they wished.
"A jury's verdict is the jury's verdict, and not something that can be disturbed later on," he said.
Hart's comments regarding the jury were backed up by retired Circuit Judge John J. McGrath Jr. When asked when a jury decision could be reviewed, he said, "There are a lot of caveats that go with it, but virtually never."
University of Richmond law professor Ron Bacigal agreed.
"The law is clear that they're not going to deal with what took place in the jury room," he said.
The only issue that would be examined is if outside influence, such as a bribe, was exerted, Bacigal said.