Winchester man sentenced to eight years in manslaughter case

By Joe Beck

A Frederick County judge upheld an April jury recommendation Friday in sentencing Bradley Scott Gregory to eight years in prison in the shooting death of Michael Scott Shirley.

Judge Clifford “Clay” Athey imposed the sentence, along with six months of post-release supervision. State law bars a judge from imposing a higher sentence than the jury recommendation, but allows the judge to lower the sentence.

Gregory was prosecuted on a charge of first-degree murder, but a jury convicted him of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Spicer said the outcome fell short of the conviction for first-degree murder he had sought at the trial, but he hoped the outcome would bring some comfort to those close to Shirley, a resident of Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

“I respect what the jury did,” Spicer said. “It was a difficult case and any number of actual determinations could have gone differently. It wasn’t as much (prison) time as the commonwealth was seeking, but it is my hope it will bring closure to the family.”

The prosecution and defense in the case agreed that Gregory fired a shot into Shirley in the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 2012 during a New Year’s party. Gregory fired the shot from his pickup truck as Shirley walked toward the truck.

The confrontation was preceded by an argument between the two men after Gregory provoked Shirley with a comment about Shirley’s girlfriend.

Shirley’s attorney, public defender Timothy Coyne, argued that Gregory did not intend to kill Shirley and fired the gun out of fear for his safety.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com