Donald Bradley was sentenced to death by the State of Florida for a murder. According to court documents Donald Bradley would murder Jack Jones after the victims wife asked him to beat up Jack due to him having an affair with another woman. Donald Bradley would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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|BRADLEY, DONALD L
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Linda Jones (Mrs. Jones) became extremely upset when she learned that her husband, Jack Jones (Mr. Jones), was having an affair with a teenage girl whom the couple had befriended and taken into their home. Mrs. Jones made numerous attempts to break up the affair, but when they failed she asked Bradley to murder her husband in a feigned home-invasion scheme.2
In accordance with the plan formulated by Mrs. Jones and Bradley, at about 8 p.m. on November 7, 1995, Bradley picked up two young men who worked for him and went to the Joneses’ residence to carry out an assault on Mr. Jones. The two young men, brothers Brian and Patrick McWhite, knew that they were going to assault Mr. Jones for $100 each “so he would quit seeing the girl.” Bradley, however, never told them of any plan to kill Mr. Jones. The two brothers had helped Bradley intimidate the girl earlier on Halloween night and had, at Bradley’s request, vandalized the girl’s car.
Sometime shortly after 8 p.m., Bradley silently entered the house through a side door and took a gun Mrs. Jones told him was in the kitchen. Mr. and Mrs. Jones were watching television when the McWhite brothers entered unannounced through the front door. They were wearing ski-masks and gloves and carrying a “Zulu war stick” (a large wooden bat). As soon as Mr. Jones saw the intruders, he rose to his feet and ordered them to “get out.” He then ran toward them in an attempt to strike them. Mr. Jones was subdued and then beaten with the “war stick.” At some point during the beating, Bradley and the McWhite brothers duct-taped Mr. Jones, dragged him to another room and continued beating him. Bradley also duct-taped Mrs. Jones’ hands but cut the tape before leaving so that she could call the police. At one point, Bradley placed the gun to Mr. Jones’ head and pulled the trigger, but the gun malfunctioned. Bradley then used the gun to strike Mr. Jones in the head numerous times. As a result of the beatings by Bradley and the McWhite brothers, Mr. Jones’ skull was fractured, his ribs were broken, and his brain and many internal organs were damaged. Before leaving, Bradley and the McWhite brothers removed some items from the house to make it appear that a burglary had taken place. After they left the house, Bradley told the brothers that he thought he had killed Mr. Jones. At 8:31 p.m., Mrs. Jones called 911 and reported a burglary. During the investigation, a neighbor reported seeing Bradley’s van leave the Jones home at the time of the alleged burglary, and the fingerprints of one of the brothers were found at the scene. Both brothers were arrested and confessed to their participation. They also told the police about the role Bradley had played. Bradley admitted that he made telephone calls to Mrs. Jones on the night of the murder but only with regard to picking up some tax documents from under Mrs. Jones’ front door. He said that he went to the Jones home, but left immediately when he did not find the documents.
The McWhite brothers, Bradley, and Mrs. Jones were all charged with the murder. Mrs. Jones was tried and convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.3 The brothers entered into a plea agreement in which they received ten-year sentences for third-degree murder. The plea agreement also required that they testify in the trials of both Mrs. Jones and Bradley.
At Bradley’s trial, a friend of Mrs. Jones testified that a few days before the murder, Mrs. Jones told her that she wanted to take a gun and kill her husband and that she, not some other woman, was entitled to the proceeds of Mr. Jones’ life insurance policies worth some $500,000. Bradley told one of the McWhite brothers that he was expecting a payoff of between $100,000 and $200,000 after Mrs. Jones received the life insurance proceeds.
During the guilt phase, Patrick McWhite testified that Mr. Jones repeatedly asked Bradley to stop beating him, but Bradley refused. Brian McWhite testified that he also asked Bradley to stop beating Mr. Jones. During the penalty phase, Patrick testified that Mr. Jones was alive throughout the beating. The trial judge informed the jury of the convictions and sentences of Mrs. Jones and the McWhite brothers. The jury was also told of Mrs. Jones’ convictions for two separate charges of soliciting others to kill her husband in similar home-invasion schemes, which were never carried out.
In mitigation, the defense presented extensive evidence that Bradley came from a very dysfunctional family and that throughout their entire childhoods, he and his siblings were subjected to extreme emotional and physical abuse. Nonetheless, as an adult, Bradley developed a relationship with his father and helped his mother financially and otherwise. He also ran a successful landscaping business. Witnesses testified to Bradley’s intense commitment to his work and family.
By a vote of ten to two, the jury recommended that Bradley be sentenced to death and the judge agreed.4 We affirmed Bradley’s convictions and sentence of death on direct appeal.5 See Bradley, 787 So.2d at 734. On November 14, 2002, Bradley filed an initial motion to vacate his judgment and sentence with special leave to amend. On September 22, 2003, Bradley filed an amended motion, raising eighteen claims.6 On February 27, 2004, the postconviction court held a Huff hearing7 and ordered an evidentiary hearing on claims 1, 2, 3, 4, and 18.8 An evidentiary hearing was conducted on September 15, 2005, and then recessed while certain hairs were subjected to DNA testing. On June 21, 2007, after the DNA testing revealed no additional evidence, the circuit court rendered its order denying all claims. Bradley now appeals the denial of his postconviction motion. He has also filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, which is addressed in this opinion. We begin our discussion by examining the claims raised in Bradley’s 3.851 motion, the denial of which he has appealed here, followed by the claims he raised in the habeas petition.