Published June 29, 2014 by Florida Today
Though Randy Moore retired from his job as an assistant public defender in March, he returned to court Friday on his own time to stand with his client as Brandon Bradley was sentenced to death.
“I just felt like I couldn’t walk away from it,” he said.
In April, Bradley was convicted of killing Brevard County Sheriff’s Deputy Barbara Pill on March 6, 2012, and days later, the jury voted 10-2 to recommend that Judge Morgan Reinman impose a death sentence.
“Well, I’m realistic,” Moore said. “You always hope for the best and expect the worst and prepare for both, and I’m not surprised by the sentence he got.”
Moore and two other attorneys had argued that the jury and judge should impose a life sentence. They said he had brain damage, he was abused as a child and he was a heavy drug user. They argued he was intoxicated at the time of the crime and when he waived his rights and spoke to police. But they didn’t try to keep his confession out of evidence — Moore said that’s because he wanted the jury to see the state Bradley was in.
“I wanted the jury to see and hear Mr. Bradley describing what happened.”
In her order sentencing Bradley to death, Reinman called the evidence of Bradley’s guilt “overwhelming.”
Reinman, who was making a death penalty decision for the first time, rejected brain damage as reason to not impose the death penalty. She wrote it is impossible to determine when the damage occurred — it could have happened when Bradley was in a car crash after shooting Pill. She gave some weight to the fact that Bradley was abused as a child, but little weight to his drug use.
Bradley remained silent through his trial, but at his sentencing, he apologized.
“I just want to say I’m sorry to the family and friends of Deputy Pill,” Bradley said.
“It’s a little late for that,” Pill’s widow, Steve, said of the apology after the sentencing. He felt the death sentence was just, and he said he’s committed to attending the execution.
“If I’m still around, I’ll be there,” he said.
Moore said the apology was Bradley’s idea and he wanted to say it sooner, but the sentencing was the appropriate time. Moore and Bradley didn’t talk much about how he felt, but Moore said Bradley would often shake his head and say he wished it didn’t happen. Bradley is on an antidepressant and a drug for hallucinations and in court, he appeared stoic.
“There was remorse there, and it’s not probably apparent to the casual observer, but I think I’ve gotten to know him fairly well over two years,” Moore said.
Around Eau Gallie, childhood friends of Brandon Bradley collectively gasped as they heard that he was sentenced to death Friday afternoon.
Rachael Morales-Hernandez said she knew Bradley since middle school. She was sitting on her bed, following Twitter and television news coverage.
“May God have mercy upon your soul,” Judge Morgan Reinman told Bradley.
“I just broke down,” Morales-Hernandez said. She said she was shocked, shaken, scared. There was a pressure in her chest. A feeling in her stomach that made her not want to eat.
“You should always forgive,” she said.
Bradley’s mother, Tiffany Taylor, said the trial wasn’t fair, and that family and friends were distraught.
“We were crying, we were really upset about it,” she said.
Bradley was sentenced to 35 years in prison for three other crimes he was convicted of in connection to Pill’s murder. That time would be served if his death sentence was overturned. The case will automatically be appealed to the state supreme court.
But the appeal will be out of Moore’s hands. He reappeared for Bradley’s sentencing with a new beard, recently returned from a trip to Spain, Italy and France. Though he’s planning an October trip to Ireland and he doesn’t miss his day job, he’s only been out of the saddle for a little while. Who knows how he might feel in six months or a year.
“I never say never,” Moore said. “I like helping people and I like helping them in this way.”