First day of Bradley-trial testimony focuses on gun

Published March 18, 2014 by Florida Today

Jason Seaton has been around guns most of his life — he went target practicing as a kid with his dad and has owned them for sport and self-defense. Tuesday afternoon, Seaton looked at a photo of one of his guns while he sat on a witness stand.

He was the third of four people prosecutors called to testify Tuesday during the trial of the man accused of shooting Brevard County Sheriff’s Deputy Barbara Pill.

Prosecutors say Brandon Bradley used Seaton’s .40 caliber Glock 27 to kill Pill. Seaton’s brother-in-law is doing time in prison on a conviction for stealing the gun, a lightweight, semi-automatic pistol, and trading it to Bradley for cash and crack cocaine.

“I bought my guns to defend myself against these kinds of people, not to arm them,” Seaton told FLORIDA TODAY. “And it makes me sick sometimes to think that a criminal got a hold of one of my guns and hurt and killed someone with it.”

The state also called Robert Marks, the brother-in-law convicted of stealing the gun, and BCSO Agent Craig Carson, who investigated the pistol’s origin. For Seaton, testifying in court was something of a relief.

“It won’t be over with for me until Brandon Bradley is executed,” he said. “I have a high respect for law enforcement, and I don’t appreciate what he did to Deputy Pill.”

Tuesday morning, three witnesses, including Marks, were interviewed about what they might say if called to testify. Judge Morgan Reinman denied an effort by the defense to have some of their testimony barred.

At about noon, the court swore in a jury of 12, plus three alternates. There are eight men and seven women. Except for one black man, the jury is all white. Opening statements came after lunch. Sheriff Wayne Ivey attended in uniform to watch the state’s presentation.

Assistant State Attorney Jim McMaster began by saying Bradley shot Pill, not because of a grudge or because he knew her, but because he had a plan to kill any officer who tried to send him back to prison.

McMaster said Bradley and Kerchner stole from their motel room on U.S. 192. They took sheets, pictures, a metal soap holder, an ice bucket, a trash can. They fled motel employees who tried to stop them. Pill stopped their car. Bradley said he would do anything not to go back to prison. Kerchner pleaded with him not to. Pill approached his car and reached in through the driver’s side door. There were eight rapid shots. Pill didn’t go for her gun, she hit an emergency button on the breastplate of her body armor. Police swarmed the area. After a car chase, Bradley and Kerchner were arrested. The medical examiner found Pill was shot five times. DNA from the gun matched Bradley, but not Kerchner. Bradley confessed in an interview with police.

Defense Attorney Michael Pirolo said it was not a case of premeditation or a plan to kill a police officer. The pair had been on a two-week drug binge. Pirolo pointed out Kerchner said she was intoxicated at the time and her memory was hazy. Pirolo asked jurors if they can trust what she says. He said they’ll hear that Bradley has brain damage, and that video from the police station the day Bradley was arrested shows he was under the influence.