CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WV News) — A 37-year-old defendant from Columbus, Ohio, has nixed a plea offer in Harrison County Circuit Court that would result in his his release around May 30, 2022, when he will be almost 39.
Instead, he’s rolling the dice that he will be acquitted at trial next month on four gun-related charges that, should he be convicted, could mean he wouldn’t even be eligible for parole until May 30, 2027, when he would be nearly 44 years old.
Roosevelt James Bradford is charged with felony possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, felony carrying a concealed firearm by a prohibited person, two counts of felony wanton endangerment involving a firearm, and one count of misdemeanor possession of alprazolam. Bradford has pleaded not guilty and is presumed innocent unless convicted.
The proposed deal had called for Bradford to enter a plea to one count of wanton endangerment involving a firearm, with the sides to join in recommending the maximum 5-year prison term. In that event, Bradford could discharge the sentence after serving 2 1/2 years through maximum good-behavior credit, and his term would be backdated to Nov. 30, 2019, when he first was jailed in the case. Parole wouldn’t come into play since a 3-year minimum term is required by the state in cases where firearm use is part of the crime, or where a judge makes a firearm finding.
Bradford told the court he didn’t want to enter a plea to wanton endangerment because that’s an allegation “like harming somebody. And I can’t accept that. I never intended to harm anybody.”
At the trial Feb. 3-5, it’s likely defense attorney Tom Dyer also will challenge the potential jury of 30, which likely will be all White or almost all White. Bradford is Black. But under Swain vs. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in 1965 in an Alabama case, the justices held that “a defendant in a criminal case is not constitutionally entitled to a proportionate number of his race on the trial jury or the jury panel.” Instead, Dyer would have to prove that the county circuit clerk’s office had purposefully and systematically kept Blacks off the potential jury list.
Assistant Prosecutor Pustolski
If Bradford goes to trial and is convicted of all the charges, Assistant Prosecutor Brad Pustolski has said he will ask Judge Chris McCarthy to impose the maximum sentence on the felonies of 25 years, plus 5 more years through a two-time felon enhancement. McCarthy has diverted from prosecution requests in some cases, but his rulings often closely mirror them.
Bradford previously served 16 years in Ohio’s prison system for aggravated robbery with a firearm specification, and felonious assault.
Bradford is accused in Harrison County in connection with a Nov. 30, 2019, incident in which authorities responded to reports of a disturbance in progress involving shots fired.
Harrison Deputy A.C. Vernon is leading the investigation.
Bradford testified during his probable cause hearing in December 2019.
Bradford denied that he had fired, owned or had anything else to do with the weapon during an alleged altercation Nov. 30, 2019, on Capitol Avenue in Clarksburg. He said two females had started the altercation by vandalizing a home they believed was occupied by someone they asserted had cheated them financially.
Bradford said he got out of a car in a bid to extract the females, but only after he heard gunfire. He didn’t know who had fired shots, he testified.
Bradford’s testimony didn’t sway Keith Marple, the Harrison County magistrate who handled the case. Marple found probable cause for the felony charge of prohibited person in possession of a firearm, which was the only charge pending against Bradford at the time.
— Harrison Magistrate Mike Weiss on Thursday found probable cause for a charge of soliciting a minor via computer against Mark Steven Sassak Jr., 36, of Monessen, Pennsylvania.
Assistant Prosecutor Andrea Roberts presented one witness, Bridgeport Detective Lt. Gary Weaver. Sassak represented himself. He cross-examined Weaver but produced no case otherwise.
Sassak communicated with what he believed to be a 15-year-old female by text, eventually leading to him traveling Oct. 28 from the Keystone State to Bridgeport for sex with the girl, Weaver has alleged.
Sassak was arrested by Bridgeport Police after he arrived, and was found with two condoms in his possession, Weaver has alleged.
— Leroy Allen Williams, 32, homeless, has waived his probable cause hearing before Harrison Chief Magistrate Mark Gorby on two counts alleging second-offense failure to comply with the state’s sex offender registry law.
Roberts represented the state.
— Harrison Circuit Judge James A. Matish has ordered Raymond Allen Conners II, 24, of Clarksburg, to serve a 60-day jail sanction for violating probation by using fentanyl. The court also ordered Conners undergo some form of significant drug treatment once he’s released from jail. Conners is on probation for two counts of grand larceny and could face 2 to 20 years in prison if his alternative release is ever permanently revoked.