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Hold-out juror defends stance

Man says he doesn't believe Bradley deliberately killed 16-year-old Barker

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- The Shenandoah County Circuit Court juror who held out last week for a lighter sentence for murderer Jody Lynn Bradley said Wednesday that no jurors were coerced into recommending his fate.

"No one was blackmailed into anything," the 56-year-old man said. "Everybody had their own decisions to make. If anybody was trying to sway anybody, they was trying to sway me."

The panel decided Thursday that Bradley, 48, of 189 Wakemans Grove Road, Edinburg, was guilty of second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony when he shot 16-year-old Brendon Barker Manning on Jan. 6. Jurors recommended he serve nine years in prison for the murder. The firearms charge carries a mandatory three-year term to run consecutive to any other sentence. Formal sentencing is Nov. 18.

Two jurors, speaking on condition of anonymity, last week said Bradley's sentence wasn't severe enough. One said the jurors agreed to the sentence to avoid a hung jury.

"I thought he should get 20-plus [years]," the female juror said Friday. "We had one man in there that was refusing to do anything, and he kind of blackmailed us into doing what he wanted."

Barker, a Strasburg High School student, had continued to see Bradley's daughter, Sarah, despite her father ordering him to stay away and obtaining a no-trespassing notice against him. Bradley testified that he thought Barker was plying Sarah with drugs, which she denied during the trial and in a follow-up interview.

Bradley said he suspected Barker was in his attic with Sarah the evening he shot him in the head, but said he was startled and fired the gun in his hand when a hooded figure moved forward in a crouching position. A bloodstain pattern expert testified that Barker was reclining when he was shot, and couldn't have been leaning forward since there was no blood on his front.

The male holdout juror believed Bradley.

"I think what the defendant was saying, whether it could hurt him or help in the case, [was true]," he said. "I don't know if he shot accidentally or just on the spur of the moment."

The gun was already cocked, the juror said, the lighting was poor, and Barker's face was shadowed.

"I don't think he deliberately went in there to kill the boy," he said. "If so, he would've probably killed him when he caught him naked in the closet."

Bradley testified he found Barker putting on his boxers -- Sarah said he had the shorts on, and had been dressing as a girl to entertain her little brother -- last November. Bradley admitted calling Barker's mother and threatening to kill him if he came back to the house.

The holdout juror said he was sympathetic to Barker's mother, Janeen Johannsen, and her husband, Jimmy.

"[I] lost one of my own daughters," he said.

His daughter and some of his friends have died of drug overdoses, the juror said.

"You don't want to just watch your kids go down the tubes and wish you had done more," he said. "I wish I would've done a little more and took a little more aggressive steps [in his daughter's case, but] not shoot somebody. Every situation's different. Maybe [Bradley] felt he did all he could do. I felt he could've done one step further, have a meeting of the minds with everybody, give it one more shot, try to bring peace to the situation.

"He was at the end of his rope. He didn't want to watch his daughter go down the tubes with drugs."

He said Bradley should've sent Barker -- who the juror thought seemed like a "regular teenager" -- off with "a good whupping" and a warning.

There were "a lot of heated moments" with "a lot of crying, a lot of emotions" in the jury room, said the male juror, with much of the heat focused on him. He was going to go with acquittal.

"But, I slept on it," he said. "I thought long and hard when I went home. I feel he should have a few years to reflect back on that."

Judge Dennis L. Hupp told jurors to weigh all the evidence, but to make their own decisions and not be swayed by other jurors, the man said.

"That's what I'm doing, and that's what you need to do," he said. "I'm not trying to sway nobody. I've had a couple of threatening calls. One of them told me my family's dead."

He said he's gotten feedback from friends and relatives with about half agreeing his decision. And, he and his brother "are at each other's throats."

"He clearly disagreed with my verdict," the man said. "He told me the guy should hang. I said, 'The kid had every choice.' It's sad the way it had to end."

The juror said Bradley reminded him of Billy Bob Thornton's character in the movie "Slingblade."

"I probably couldn't be a friend of his because of his demeanor," he said. "That doesn't make him a bad person. He seems emotionless."

He took issue with family members saying Barker was just a baby.

"He's not a baby, he's not a kid," the juror said. "There's consequences for everything. When you're 16 you're a young man. I think a lot of the liability should fall on the girl.

"Somebody says, 'I'm going to kill you, don't come back,' I take them real serious."

More should go into the jury selection process, he said.

"I think they should screen all jury members before they have them to decide somebody's life," he said. "I think there was a few of them with mental illnesses. One of the other male jurors was going to vote with whatever the girls told him. They just wanted to hang the guy from day one."

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It's interesting to hear from the hold-out juror's point of view, however inflammatory. His own experiences seem to have weighed heavily on his mind. I don't think his decision is going to win him too many friends in Shenandoah County, however, he is entitled to his own interpretation of the evidence. The article leads me to believe that some of the jurors had already decided the case without any debate and a dissenting opinion was neither welcome or wanted. I suppose we will never really know what was in Jody Bradley's mind the day of the shooting and as for his demeanor I couldn't begin to imagine what he feels. I seriously doubt that he doesn't regret his actions. I hope that some of his family and friends come forward to be interviewed to give an account on his behalf. People make bad choices everyday and thankfully most of us do not have to pay for them with our lives or our freedom.


Yeah, he's right that more should go into the jury selection process. They need to weed out people who think it's OK to shoot unarmed, cowering children in the face. I don't know how some people can look themselves in the mirror.


whats the point in making a comment ,if your going to censure it???the man used this trial as a outlet for some type of unfinished pain he was feeling about his own child. she was your baby though right same as this boy not yet a man was some ones baby.you sir shouldnt have sit on this jury. and you know this now right .you never did address the issue if you knew this piece of .... but you wont admit that now will you

Cathy C

I will never give an interview, but I can assure even though Jody did not know it was Brendon, I speak with him, and I know his sorrow & pain. He would NEVER intentionally hurt his mother who is a HUGE part of his life. I know Jody well, and his demeanor is just how he is on the outside. To see him with his children when they were young...a happier man I never saw. This is a man who could not work indoors..and for him jail is even worse than it is for many, he wants to be in his fields working for his family..including his children. This paper does not seem to want to print that when i try to reply he is very different than he appears when you see him when he's being serious..so am I. Being deaf in 1 ear I truly believe has caused a lot of that affect. In no way does he feel cold toward Brendon's family, and all he has hurt. Especially his family including his children. They were and still are his life in his heart. He also has a son, this was all just a horrible tragedy, and I truly feel he was let down by society. I work with recovering addicts online..and he had no idea what to do with the mess that was given to him to try to fix. I wish that she had been able to be put in treatment....that would have been a start. Addiction is never just suddenly gone..u work every day to stay clean. I hope that those of you condemning Jody never really have to know what it is to lose a child to an overdose as this poor juror has. Only by the grace of God do we get a chance to straighten our lives out..and thankfully Sarah now has that chance and looks good to me. I pray for all who deal with this in your life, our children have access to so much we not even know, it is scary. I also am very sorry any juror has been threatened...that is very sad and changes my opinion of the county where I live now.


Absolutely none of this is going to bring Brendon Barker back. I'm reasonably sure that no two people are more singularly aware of this than the Janine and Jimmie Johansson. The constant finger pointing, threatening and airing of dirty laundry is only making deeper the significant wound that has been left for the entire community to deal with. Spend five minutes speaking to any teenager who is aware of the situation and you will hear in their voices just exactly what was taken from ALL of our children that day - their sense of security. As a COMMUNITY, we should be most concerned about how to best prevent this from ever happening again - to anyone's child - to anyone's family.

Opining that one person knows better than the law of the land and can hold themselves above it historically has rarely resulted in anything less than tragedy. One child is dead, the lives of two families are in shambles and our community is fractured. This surely meets the standard of tragedy for me. The greater tragedy will be if we as COMMUNITY continue to spit and spare amongst ourselves, rather than doing our level best to direct our energies toward healing for everyone involved.


the fact that a juror is threatened upsets you? But the fact that a grown man killed a 16 year old child dosn't? thats kinda odd


I am not condoning what happened. I think a good butt whippin' would have been sufficient. However, kids today ignore the rules and sometimes when that happens you pay. If anything good can come out of this maybe it will serve as a reminder to obey your parents, don't do drugs, and live a straight life. You can still have a great time and it makes life a lot better. My prayers go out to both families.

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