Thursday night, defense attorney David Crane and I negotiated a plea agreement in which George Bradshaw pled no contest, having the effect of a guilty plea, to criminal assault, receiving two years’ probation.
I know there are many who are not content with such a disposition, however, we have succeeded in putting Mr. Bradshaw under the eye of the Probation Department, which makes the community safer and insures that any future criminal transgressions by him will be dealt with without the need of a full-blown trial.
As for the case against George Bradshaw, I have chosen not to re-try the case and accept full responsibility for that decision. First, those reasons which did not factor into that decision:the cost, longevity or strain on staff of a re-trial, particularly if a likely change of venue motion to another county was granted.
This office will never avoid a case for any of those reasons. If the facts and evidence are there and can be proven at trial, we will proceed to trial.
Second, the fear of an adverse verdict or subsequent hung jury. Again, if I believe the case is provable, as seen in the increased number of jury trials this year, we will not shy away from trying tough cases.
As for the reasons supporting my decision, there are several. First, the prosecution team, led by my best trial attorney, Katherine Micks, by all accounts, did an excellent job presenting the case it had and a second trial would not improve that performance. Second, as noted by numerous observers, the quality of the people’s witnesses was equivocal, at best, in many instances, allowing the defense to further attack them upon re-trial with the record produced thus far.
In no way does that disparage people who did their best to tell the truth and seek justice for Robert Gregory. Memories fade and perceptions may differ, offering distorted or unclear versions of events. In no way does that impart duplicity, bias or agenda. Last, the fact that eight of 12 jurors found Mr. Bradshaw guilty as charged also imparts that fully one-third of the representatives of this community found him not guilty.
Which leads me to my last point. The men who founded this country were rebels who knew well that if they lost the Revolutionary War, they would summarily be hung. With that memory burned into their minds, they decidedly created a system of constitutional law which raised the bar inordinately high before the government could take life or liberty. That bar was proof beyond a reasonable doubt. As a prosecutor, I have often cursed that extreme burden of proof placed upon me and this office. But as an American, I would defend it to the death.
In the instant matter, Ms. Micks and the entire prosecution team competently presented every piece of evidence and testimony before the jury and to a person believe that no different result would be obtained by a new trial. I have reviewed the transcripts of each percipient witness to the assault upon Robert Gregory, as well as the medical records, and respectfully must agree with every person who witnessed the trial, who subsequently told me that no clear and convincing picture of what occurred could be brought by 12 new faces.
Last, five of the jurors who sat on the case, including the foreman and two who were adamant about Mr. Bradshaw’s guilt, graciously agreed to spend time with me and offer their opinions of the case and explain their reasoning, citing the muddiness of the people’s witnesses, the victim’s refusal to let the fight end with pursuit of the defendant, even after three “rounds” in different locations and the disparate medical opinions, to name a few. Although differing in their eventual votes, all five of those persons were unanimous in their belief that a new trial would not deliver the unanimity necessary to a guilty verdict.
After exhaustive review of the entire record of this case and numerous interviews with the prosecution team, jurors of both persuasion and the family of Robert Gregory, it is my considered opinion and belief that a new trial would not result in a different verdict, which both ethically and morally dictates my dismissal of the case.
It is one of those times when, as the people’s representative, I curse the weighty burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt and must remind myself of my sworn duty to uphold it as an officer of the court and an American.
Jon Alexander is district attorney of Del Norte County.