By Sally Voth - firstname.lastname@example.org
The nine women and three men broke for the evening at about 8 p.m. Wednesday night, about three hours after they started considering the charges against Bradley, 48, of 189 Wakemans Grove Road, Edinburg.
He is charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the Jan. 6 shooting of Brendon Manning Barker, the Strasburg High School student he shot in the attic of his Edinburg farmhouse.
Jurors must decide whether to acquit him of the murder charge, or convict him of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.
The farmer took the stand in his own defense Wednesday afternoon. He has always acknowledged he shot Barker, who was dating Bradley's daughter, Sarah, against his wishes.
He said she came to live with him in May 2008. Last summer, Barker and some of his friends helped Bradley on his farm, he said.
Toward the end of summer, Bradley said he started trying to keep the two 16-year-olds apart after father and daughter fought about her marijuana use, he said. Bradley said he thought Barker was supplying the marijuana and perhaps stronger drugs, but on the stand Tuesday, Sarah Bradley testified she was usually the supplier, and she never did any drugs besides pot.
"At first, I grounded her," Bradley said. "Grounding her never seemed to work out, but I had tried it several times.
Besides the pot smoking, he said, his daughter's grades fell drastically, and she wouldn't keep her room clean.
"She just got to laying around," Bradley said. "If she did want to go anywhere, do anything, it was always with Brendon. It's the only place she wanted to be. It was always just a fight."
He began taking his daughter to see a counselor last summer, and she also was seeing a school counselor, he said.
Things came to a head in November when Bradley said he found Barker wearing nothing but his socks in his daughter's closet, and Sarah Bradley wearing Barker's shirt. Sarah Bradley testified a day earlier that Barker had boxers on and had been dressing up in girls' clothing as a joke.
"I explained to him if I caught him back in the house, I would shoot him," Bradley said.
He called Barker's mother, Janeen Johannsen, and made the same threat, both Bradley and Johannsen testified.
"I said, 'You can't just shoot Brendon,'" she said earlier Wednesday. "'Brendon is in love with Sarah.' He said, 'I'm telling you now, if I see Brendon again, I will shoot him.'
"His tone -- and that's one thing that I did tell Brendon -- his tone was very cold, his emotions were very even. I said, 'I do believe this is a real threat,' just in the quality of his voice, the coldness of it. We discussed by no means was he to go over there."
Barker's stepfather, Jimmy Johannsen, testified that he tried to reason with Bradley over the phone.
"Basically, he said he didn't have anything more to say about this, that everything had been said, that he would kill Brendon if he got a chance to do that," he said. "It seemed like Mr. Bradley was really meaning what he was saying."
Two other witnesses testified that they'd heard Bradley make similar threats. Licensed clinical social worker Donna Van Horn said she was treating Sarah Bradley for depression when her father said he'd shoot Barker if he returned.
"I said to him, do you really think you could do that, and his reply was, he didn't know what he would do if the young man was on the property again," she said. "He had made it clear that he didn't want the young man involved with his daughter and that he considered him keeping her from doing the things he wanted and hoped for her, keeping her from being focused on school and trying to cooperate with him."
Van Horn reported Bradley's statements to the Sheriff's Office, and he was advised to get a no-trespass notice against Barker. Strasburg High School Assistant Principal Holly Massie, who was assistant principal at Central High School when Sarah Bradley was there last year, also heard Bradley threaten Barker.
Massie testified that she'd called in Bradley because of his daughter's behavior and poor grades, and he commented on his daughter's relationship with Barker.
"[He said], he had weapons and was prepared to use them," Massie said. "Honestly, it's not a comment that hadn't been made by other fathers before. It wasn't said in such a way that it caused me to be alarmed."
Van Horn reported Bradley's statements to the Sheriff's Office, and he was advised to get a no-trespass notice against Barker.
"I really didn't want to go through all that," Bradley said, but said he did get the notice.
While he said he'd seen Barker several times on the public road near his farm, Bradley said he never caught him on the property until Jan. 5. He said he called the Sheriff's Office six to eight times, but they never found Barker on his property.
"There was not a whole lot you could do, it seemed," Bradley testified.
On Jan. 6, he heard something in the attic, he said. Bradley said he called his daughter's name, and didn't get a response, and put a hamper in front of the attic door so he'd hear it if someone opened it. He grabbed a pistol and a flashlight and opened the attic door, finding Sarah Bradley on the other side. She said she was up there alone.
"I had my handgun in my right hand and my flashlight in my left hand -- I'm right-handed," Bradley said.
He began searching the attic, which has low rafters.
"I caught a glimpse of a hooded figure," Bradley said. "It startled me. I had cocked my gun. I thought I had seen something. The hands were up front. The figure was crouched down, and I had cocked my gun and I fired.
"I had an idea who it was, but I really wasn't absolutely sure who it was until the figure fell back. Then, I shined the light in the face, and I was for sure who it was then."
He referred several times to Barker's figure as "it."
"It was as if it wanted to stand up at one point, but it fell back," Bradley said. "I just [stood] there for a while. I saw the pool [of blood] gather on the right side of the figure, the figure's left side. I stood there for a little bit. There was no movement once the figure hit the ground. The pool gathered.
"Then Sarah come up. She said, 'What did you do?' I didn't say anything to her. I went down the steps. She went towards where Brendon was."
Earlier on Wednesday, forensic scientists testified that Barker was reclining when he was shot from a distance of two to four feet away.
Bradley said he went downstairs to get a garbage bag.
"I thought it would catch the blood from soaking through more of it, but by that time, it was too late," he said. "I picked up the head with one hand by the point of the hood, slid it under there and set it back down. When I got finished [with] what I was doing, I happened to remember I had the handgun throwed on the bed and I was worried about Sarah getting it."
Bradley disassembled the gun because he figured the police would be coming, he said.
"In my mind, she was hooked on drugs and I felt that at that point that the supply of drugs would be over," he said.
After Bradley admitted he suspected the hooded figure was Barker, defense attorney Gene Hart asked why he fired the shot.
"I felt there was an intruder in the home, intruding on my family," he said. "It wouldn't stop. Sarah was hooked on drugs. She didn't know the scope of the type of drugs she was doing. She had stopped being Sarah. She was going nowhere. She wasn't doing her schoolwork. I felt that once she got off of drugs and the supply of drugs was no longer, that she had a chance."
When Bradley went outside to meet the police -- his daughter had called 911 -- he said five officers approached with guns drawn.
"One of them had a shotgun stuck in my face," he said.
In closing arguments, Assistant Shenandoah County Commonwealth's Attorney Kenneth Alger acknowledged the teens smoked marijuana together.
"But, does that give Mr. Bradley the right to shoot, to execute someone?" he asked.
Alger demonstrated the distance the gun muzzle was from Barker's face.
"He's hunted Brendon Barker down," he said. "His first response was to get trash bags to clean up the mess in his attic."
There were other actions Bradley could've taken, such as calling Barker's parents or the police, Alger said.
"He could've beat the crud out of this guy," he said. "He could've shot him in the leg.
"[Barker] died lying down, hiding."
Hart described Bradley as a "pretty simple guy."
"He's someone who has thrust upon him 16 years after the fact the responsibility of fixing a rebellious daughter," he said. "How many times did he scream for help? Brendon Barker is a drug distributor to Sarah Bradley."
Hart said Bradley came across a hooded figure crouched down in his attic at night.
"I thought that's what a burglar was, someone lying in wait in your home at night, shrouded," he said.
The fatal shot wasn't fired with malice, Hart argued.
"If it's fired with anything, it's fired with love for his daughter," he said. "He reasonably believes her life is being ruined."