Defendant takes plea deal after court revives rape case

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The case against a Wilkinsburg man was first dismissed on a technicality but ultimately reversed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, giving prosecutors another crack at convicting David L. Bradford of rape and kidnapping.

The culmination of the four-year court battle was expected to begin today when Bradford went to trial before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel.

Instead, after 10 jurors had been selected, the prosecution offered to drop seven of the counts against him -- five of them felonies -- and allow Bradford to plead no contest to one misdemeanor count of unlawful restraint.

He took the deal and got two years probation.

Defense attorney Kevin Abramovitz said he was confident in his case because there was no rape since his client had consensual sex with the alleged victim.

He said that the two spent the evening of Sept. 21, 2008, together, watched a movie, and she borrowed Bradford's cell phone and made about a dozen calls on it during the time they were together.

He was arrested four days later and had a preliminary hearing on Oct. 9, 2008, before Magisterial District Judge Kevin E. Cooper.

The charges were bound over to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, but besides sending a transcript of the hearing to court in April 2009, no activity occurred on the case until Oct. 9, 2009 -- one year and 10 days after Bradford's arrest.

His defense attorney filed a motion to dismiss the charges based on a violation of Pennsylvania Rule 600, which requires that a defendant cannot remain in custody for more than 180 days, or be free on bond for more than 365, without a trial.

Judge Randal B. Todd granted the motion, saying the DA's office failed to act with due diligence to bring the case to trial. His opinion was upheld by the state Superior Court.

But in May, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed, finding that the DA's office was not to blame, and instead attributed the mix-up to the magistrate's office for failing to forward Bradford's paperwork to the courts.

According to Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., the plea was offered today because the victim "did not want to testify, nor did she want to be a victim anymore."

He admitted that the case against Bradford was a difficult one.

"I disagree with the characterization of the case as weak," he said. "Charging something, and ultimately proving something are two different matters.

breaking - neigh_east

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.


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