Brandon Bradley’s life in jurors’ hands

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Published April 2, 2014 by Florida Today

The life of the man convicted of killing Brevard County Sheriff’s Deputy Barbara Pill is in the hands of the 12 Brevard County residents who found Brandon Bradley guilty of first-degree premeditated murder Tuesday. They are the people who must decide whether to recommend the 24-year-old be sentenced to death or life in prison. The trial’s penalty phase begins today and may wrap up next week.

The jurors — eight men and seven women — were chosen from a pool of 212 potential candidates during a 14-day process, in which the prosecutors and defense lawyers often asked very personal questions. Lawyers asked jurors about the most difficult decision they ever had to make. Prosecutors wanted to know how comfortable they’d be sentencing someone to death.

The jurors, including three alternates, had to give their answers in open court in the presence of Bradley and the media. Their names have not been released to the public. In court they were referred to by number.

They share one thing in common: all told the court they could recommend the death penalty, if they felt it was warranted. Those who said they couldn’t recommend a death penalty were not permitted to serve.

Meet the jurors and hear from defense lawyer Kepler Funk, who analyzed the trial for FLORIDA TODAY and gave a legal perspective on those selected. Funk is not involved in the Bradley trial.

Juror #1

She’s a middle-aged white woman who has lived in Florida for about two years. She said she doesn’t have a view on the death penalty, and would keep an open mind about evidence presented. She told attorneys that she knew nothing about the case.

“I want the best for the whole case,” she said. This is her second time serving on a jury.

She’s originally from Massachusetts, but came to Florida to be with her fiancé. She graduated high school and finished two years of hairdressing school. She’s a Republican. She doesn’t belong to a church.

“I just don’t understand how anybody could hurt a police officer when they’re there to protect us,” she said.

» Funk’s analysis: “This juror is from Massachusetts. They don’t have death penalty. It’s quite a liberal state, but she says she’s a Republican. She’s probably a RINO, Republican in Name Only. Good defense juror in that she stressed having an open mind, which is exactly what defense needs. My experience is that women are generally more compassionate than men.”

Juror #5

He’s white and appears to be in his mid-20s. He’s an airboat captain. He believes in an “eye for an eye” under the right circumstances. On a 10-point scale, he supports the death penalty at a six or seven, he said. Age makes a difference to him, though. He said young people should be treated more leniently.

The juror also said he wouldn’t automatically choose a death penalty for a cop killer, but he would for a child killer. He spends time with family after work, or at softball practice. On weekends, he watches sports or goes boating.

He has lived here since he was two, and spent four years in the Coast Guard.

» Funk’s analysis: “Belief in an ‘eye for eye’ is problematic for the defense, but he expressed belief that a child killer should automatically get the death penalty vs. someone who kills police officer. His young age is good for defense in that younger jurors have seen a ton of YouTube and other videos that often show gore and terrible things.”

Juror # 65

A middle-aged black man who said he’s from Jamaica. He noted that they don’t have the death penalty in Jamaica, but said he could consider it. He heard about Deputy Pill’s shooting from television news, but didn’t know any details.

He had worked as an auto mechanic, but retired due to a back injury. In his spare time, he walks or tends a garden, watches sports or sits on his back patio. He has three adult children and he’s a registered Democrat.

» Funk’s analysis: “Again, there is no death penalty in Jamaica. Good defense juror. His race alone is not enough to say good for defense but his answers to attorneys’ questions suggest he’s open-minded to consider life.”

Juror #87

He’s 22, white and works for Publix.

He’d be among the youngest, if not the youngest juror. Assistant State Attorney Tom Brown asked if it’s too soon in his life to consider a death penalty. He replied that he feels he’s ahead of a normal 22-year-old and he’s comfortable with that decision. He likes movies. He works most weekends. He thinks he’s honest and hard working.

He’s a registered Republican.

» Funk’s Analysis: “Good for defense in terms of age and YouTube type viewing. My only concern with people this young is that I don’t believe that younger people value life as being as precious as older people do. As we age, we tend to become more reflective and cherish life’s experiences more than when we were 22. This may be a good state juror. Toss up.”

Juror #102

She’s white and middle-aged, and works in a medical office.

Her father was a police officer years ago. But she doesn’t think she’d give the testimony of police more weight. On a 10-point scale, she approves of the death penalty at a seven or eight. She loves TiVo and science fiction.

She had a family member who received court-ordered therapy, and she said it ended up being a good experience. She spent two years in junior college. She moved here from New York as a child. She’s a Republican.

» Funk’s analysis: “Being a Republican doesn’t mean that much, I’d rather know her religion.” He said that her positive experience getting a family member therapy rather than jail-time “is a good sign for the defense. Father a police officer is good for the State.”

Juror #107

He’s white and middle-aged.

He agreed with the Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman verdicts. Both were found not guilty.

He retired after working more than 40 years as a general foreman for Con Edison in New York. He raised four children in New York. He has five grandchildren.

He told the court that he considers himself a trustworthy and honest person. He sees two sides to every story.

» Funk’s analysis: “Good defense juror … Agrees with Casey Anthony verdict. Interesting, as I rarely find people who agree with it, even though it was the right verdict.”

Juror #108

She’s white, appears to be in her late-20s. She said serving on the jury creates a hardship for her at work. She has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, and all but a dissertation away from a PhD. She’s a Democrat.

She said she can recommend death if need be. Asked if she were queen for a year if she’d have the death penalty, she said she didn’t know. She considers herself introverted, pragmatic and methodical.

» Funk’s analysis: “I think she’s a good State juror. Engineers and engineer-like jurors think in binary-like terms. They make lists and are detail oriented. The aggravators will out number the mitigators in my opinion, therefore, this kind of juror will conclude the State ‘wins’ and will as she says ‘recommend death if need be.’ “

Juror #114

He’s an older white man and a widower. He heard about the case on the news when it happened. He’s retired but works part time. He fishes and takes walks in the evenings. He considers himself a happy person. The hardest decision he ever had to make was waiting for his son to return home from vacation to tell him his mother had died.

» Funk’s analysis: “Tough call. Listening to him during selection, I felt he was a nice man but as a juror, was state-leaning. I worry about older jurors seeing videos like the one in this case.”

Juror #124

He’s white, in his mid-40s. He has younger children, goes to church on Sundays and then barbecues. He’s a postal employee.

Not being with his wife when his son was born was the hardest decision for him. He was away on business. It is something he will always regret. He has a high school education. He was in the military for four years. He belongs to VFW and American Legion. He’s a Republican.

» Funk’s analysis: “Defense lawyers’ worst juror. He’s the reason I call it ‘juror elimination’ and not selection, defense got stuck with this one.”

Juror #125

She’s white and middle-aged. She hadn’t heard about the case and has no set opinion on the death penalty.

She’s rehabbing a 1950s farm. She likes to travel world and lives with her fiancé. She has 8 siblings. She’s a registered Republican, but considers herself an independent. She has a high-school education.

» Funk’s analysis: “Good defense juror. She has no real fixed feeling about the death penalty and has traveled extensively. Most of the civilized world has abolished the death penalty and defense hopes this exposure will have rubbed off on her.”

Juror #147

She’s white and unemployed, but has worked in child care.

She’s quiet, and one of the hardest decisions she’s ever made was choosing end-of-life care for her mother.

She enjoys spending time with family and reading, and considers herself quiet and happy.

» Funk’s analysis: “Seems to be a caring person. This case requires compassion and reason. Deciding end-of-life treatments for mother bodes well for defense.”

Juror # 156

He’s white, about 70 years old. He’s on medication for PTSD. After the Sept. 11 terror attacks, he responded to the World Trade Center to help. Defense Attorney Randy Moore raised some concern about his PTSD.

» Funk’s analysis: “Anyone who went to the World Trade Center to help is a compassionate person. Older age may help defense but video (of the shooting) may be hard for him to handle.”

About Kepler Funk

Kepler Funk practices law in Melbourne with the firm Funk, Szachacz and Diamond. He has been the “counsel of record” in thousands of criminal cases. Funk is a frequent commentator on a variety of legal issues. He writes an international criminal law column for Defender magazine and is a frequent guest on Court TV and truTV. He provided commentary on the Brandon Bradley trial for FLORIDA TODAY.

Funk is a Florida Board Certified Criminal Trial Attorney. Further, he has been selected to serve, as one of only nine Florida attorneys, on the Florida Bar’s Board Certification Committee for Criminal Trial Law. Funk is a life member of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and previously sat on its Board of Directors. Additionally, he is a member of the International Criminal Defense Attorney Association, International Criminal Bar and is on the list of approved defense counsel to appear in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands and in the Extraordinary Chambers for the Courts of Cambodia.