James Bradley in court for murder trial, judge denies delay request
PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The man accused of killing two women is in court this morning.
James Bradley’s murder trial is set to begin today, but the defense wants a delay over an SBI investigation into a former Wilmington Police Department employee.
The defense first made a motion for the judge to recuse himself. The defense said there are two issues with this judge being on the trial. First, defense attorney Rick Miller said James Bradley received a letter from judicial standards saying Judge Paul Jones, who retired in December and was given an emergency commission by the governor, was not properly commissioned to hear the case. Miller also said there is a conflict because Jones’ daughter is an assistant prosecutor in the New Hanover County District Attorneys Office.
Jones showed the court a letter from judicial standards saying he has been commissioned and sworn in as of April. He also said his daughter has been practicing law for the past five years without any issue to his career. Jones said in 21 years, he has only been asked to recuse himself three times. He also smiled and told the courtroom it is common for children to follow in their parent’s footsteps.
The defense objected to the judges’ response for due process, but the judge proceeded to hear the next motion.
The defense then filed a motion for a continuance, because they need more time to test evidence. Miller said he recently found out about an investigation into one of the CSI officers, Michele Mahamadou, at the Wilmington Police Department who seized items from the Elisha Tucker’s car in 2014. Miller said the Mahamadou was later investigated by the SBI and internal affairs. Miller said Mahamadou walked out during the internal affairs interview and he wants to know why, before the trial begins. Miller said he wants to know what this officer might have done with this case before anything starts.
District Attorney Ben David told the court the officer was under SBI investigation, but she is not any longer. David said he was the one who called for the investigation in the first place. She was also employed with the WPD after the internal affairs investigation up until two weeks ago. David said the woman will not be testifying in this trial. He also told the judge and defense they are welcome to look at the WPD employee’s file.
David said the employee did not plant evidence. He said she was part of the CSI investigation in 2014. She took two swabs at the time from the car. David said Elisha Tucker’s body had not even been found then, so the officer would not have had blood to plant. Tucker was found 13 days later.
The judge returned around 11:30 a.m. after reviewing the WPD employee’s file. The defense wanted the whole file to be read, but the judge denied the request.
The judge also denied the defense’s request for a continuance. He said the investigation would not have affected this case.
He’s charged with murder in the presumed death of Shannon Rippy Van Newkirk. He is also accused of killing Elisha Tucker. Bradley is facing the death penalty for Tucker’s death. Tucker’s body was found in Pender County while investigators were searching for Van Newkirk. Van Newkirk’s body was never found.
Jury selection will begin this afternoon at 2:00 in Pender County. The trial will then take place in New Hanover County.