Witnesses Don't Count! -- The Troy Bradford Story
By Kira Caywood, Justice Denied staff writer
I'm a 32-year-old Black male from Columbus, Ohio. On March 11, 1998, I
learned through a family member and friend that my picture was on all the
Columbus news stations. My family members and I went to the police station to
find out why. When I arrived at the police station and told them who I was,
they immediately handcuffed me and took me to a small room, read me my rights
and told me I was under arrest for numerous offenses. Their accusations
ranged from kidnapping to burglary and robbery.
Detective Ron Strollo asked if I wanted a lawyer present. My response was,
"For what? I have nothing to hide." He asked me if I knew anything about all
these home invasions taking place on the south end of Columbus. I told him,
Meanwhile, Detective Marvin Ellis entered the room. He said, "There's been
another robbery on the South side." Detective Strollo looked at me.
"I'm charging you with that one too," he informed me.
Shortly after, a TV news brief showed my photo and featured a victim of the
attacks, a Ms. Shoups, who told a reporter that I was not the man. She said
she had never seen me in her life.
My lawyer, Fred Benton, hired Richard Smith to investigate. Mr. Smith learned
that there had been eight other people robbed and attacked before I was
arrested. He spoke to each victim and showed each one my photo. Each one said
I was not the man! My lawyer said he feared these witnesses might change
their minds, and did not want them to testify on my behalf.
Sure enough, through the influence of the Columbus Police Department, five of
those witnesses testified against me. They were allowed to change their
stories. One witness picked out a photo of her attacker (not me) while I was
sitting right in front of her. She never mentioned my wearing a stocking cap.
When she testified in court, she said I was wearing a stocking cap. In fact,
the day I turned myself in, I was wearing a stocking cap. The prosecutor
claimed the detectives had just made that up.
One woman who said I was her attacker was asked to describe me. She said her
attacker was about 5'7" with short hair. She picked his picture out while I
was sitting right in front of her. My lawyer asked her how she came up with
my name -- she said the detectives said it was me. The other witnesses said
their attacker was light or medium skinned, and stood 5'6" - 5'7". I am 6'3"
and dark-skinned, and was wearing dreadlocks when I turned myself in. I
believe the detectives coached all these witnesses to pick me.
Another victim, a Mrs. Thomas, described her assailant as 15-17 years old,
wearing a hat that revealed closely shaven hair on the sides and back of his
head, no facial hair, soft-spoken and apparently very intelligent. Mrs.
Thomas had seen me before, when we had a disagreement about my friends and me
throwing a baseball close to her car. Still, she did not identify me in a
photo array shown to her by the Columbus police department on the date of the
incident. Neither could she identify me when my photograph was broadcast over
television the day of my arrest. Mrs. Thompson told an investigator "The man
who attacked me was not Troy Bradford. The man who attacked me was just a
little boy, not even half the age of Troy."
There was no physical evidence against me. In the course of the
investigation, the police got fingerprints from the doors, tables, VCR,
tapes, and window. They got three lifts at my trial and they said the prints
didn't match mine.
I have written to many attorneys and media representatives for help, and they
all say I have a good case. I desperately need someone to help me prove my
innocence! You may contact me at the address below.
Troy Bradford #364-895
P.O. BOX 7010
Chillicothe, OH 45601