Convicted robbers say juror's felony record tainted verdict

Judge says man did ‘not destroy’ jury’s impartiality

By Bennett Loudon
BridgeTower Media Newswires

ROCHESTER, NY - Lawyers for two men convicted of a string of violent home-invasion robberies are asking the judge to reconsider a decision that a convicted felon who served on the jury did not taint the verdict.

Matthew Nix and Earl McCoy were convicted of robbery, weapons and drug charges in March. After the verdict it was discovered that juror James Bradford Jr. had a felony record and should not have been allowed to serve on the jury.

McCoy has been sentenced to 135 years in prison while Nix got 155 years.

Bradford never revealed his criminal history in an online questionnaire or during courtroom questioning. During a hearing in June, Bradford testified that he didn't remember most of his criminal past and he didn't think it was pertinent because the crimes were committed before he was 21.

It was revealed in the hearing that Bradford pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary in May 1989 for stealing from a clothing store and he served six months in a "shock camp" prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford wrote in her decision in August that Bradford "admittedly blundered his way onto the jury - but he did not smuggle his way onto the jury through intentional deceit."

She wrote that Bradford did "not destroy the impartiality of the jury in this case."

Now the defense claims to have new evidence not available at the time of the hearing. At the hearing, Bradford was asked about a second-degree burglary charge in 1989 and he said he didn't remember committing the crime or even being arrested for it.

Documents about the burglary were not available at the time of the hearing, but they were obtained by Nix's attorney Michael Witmer on Nov. 24 in response to a Freedom of Information Law request filed with Monroe County.

The records show that on May 27, 1989, Bradford and two other men were involved in a burglary at a Grand Avenue home where jewelry and guns worth $3,000 were stolen.

The burglary was related to a dispute over a drug deal in which the other two men paid $18,000 for cocaine, which was actually half baking soda. The drug dealer refused to refund their money, so Bradford and the two men who bought the cocaine burglarized the drug dealer's home.

"That completely changes the picture," said Robert Wood, McCoy's attorney.

"There was no hint whatsoever at the time that we did that juror bias hearing that this juror had any connections whatsoever with major drug trafficking. This associates this juror with major drug trafficking. An $18,000 drug deal in 1989 is big-time drug trafficking," Wood said.

Bradford and one man broke into the house, while the third man waited in a car.

After being arrested as he left court after an appearance on the third-degree burglary charge in 1989, Bradford admitted to police that he broke a window of the house by firing five to 10 shots from a BB gun through the window, then he entered the house with the other man.

"It defies credulity that (Bradford) would have no memory whatsoever concerning this burglary," Wood wrote.

Because the documents related to the burglary were not available at the time of the hearing, there was no basis for questions about it.

Wood said Wolford's August decision on Bradford's impact on the verdict should be reconsidered, or the hearing should be reopened.

The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment.

Published: Mon, Dec 25, 2017