Man says he doesn't believe Bradley deliberately killed 16-year-old Barker
By Sally Voth -- firstname.lastname@example.org
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."