Brandon Bradley gets death sentence for Brevard deputy's murder

By Mike Westfall, Margaret Kavanagh and Jerry Hume, Brevard County Team Coverage
Last Updated: Friday, June 27, 2014, 5:38 PM EDT

Brandon Bradley, the man convicted of murdering Brevard County Deputy Barbara Pill, has been sentenced to death for the 2012 shooting in Melbourne.

Brevard County Judge Morgan Reinman handed down the capital sentence to Bradley shortly after 1:30 p.m. Friday.

According to Florida Today, Bradley briefly addressed the court before his sentence was announced.

The courtroom was packed with spectators, Brevard County deputies, and members of both Bradley's family and Pill's as the judge handed down the sentence.

"We are pleased with today's sentence," Sheriff Wayne Ivey said in a statement released Friday afternoon. "Barbara was an incredible deputy, mother, wife and friend, and we will never forget her. Justice was rendered today, and we hope that it is carried out swiftly. We pray that today actions will finally bring peace and closure to Barbara's family."

Bradley, 24, was convicted in April in shooting and killing Deputy Pill on March 6, 2012. The same 12-member jury that found Bradley guilty of first-degree murder recommended that he receive the death penalty by a vote of 10–2.

Pill had pulled over Bradley and his then-girlfriend, Andria Kerchner, after the pair robbed the Econo Lodge in Melbourne following a two-week-long drug binge at the motel.

Kerchner had testified against Bradley on the stand as part of a plea deal she took in January, reducing her first-degree murder charge to accessory after the fact of first-degree murder, and dropping what could have been a life sentence to just 12 years in prison.

On the stand during Bradley's trial, Kerchner said she and Bradley were confronted by Econo Lodge staff for trying to steal furniture from their room. Despite being told to wait for police to arrive, the pair took off in Bradley's SUV, brushing an employee as they fled the scene.

Kerchner said a female deputy ordered them out of the car, but Bradley refused to go back to jail, and instead pulled out his gun and shot Deputy Barbara Pill multiple times, killing her.

The entire trail against Bradley lasted nine days following a long jury selection process that took four weeks.

Jurors took just over an hour to come to its guilty verdict, and about three hours to recommend that Bradley be put to death. But as our legal analyst, Mark NeJame of NeJame Law, explained before the sentencing, the decision was ultimately up to Judge Reinman.

"In Florida, [there are] a tremendous number of cases going to the death penalty," NeJame said. "We have more in Florida and Texas than anywhere else, and I think you'll see, in this particular case, the judge following the jury's recommendation and will be imposing a sentence of death."

Despite arguments from the defense that Bradley's troubled childhood, brain injuries and two-week drug binge were cause to spare his life, the judge sided with the jury's recommendation for a death sentence.

Pill's husband said it was "a little too late for that" when asked about Bradley's apology. He said he plans to attend the execution, if it happens.

But while this may be the end of the case, it's not the end of the story if Bradley is sent to death row.

"It's an automatic appeal to the Florida Supreme Court," NeJame explained. "It's one reason these cases do go on. They can last 20, almost 30 years."