Judge who released rape suspect explains decision
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The Allegheny County judge who released a man charged with rape because his case had been delayed for more than a year believes that prosecutors did not act with due diligence in the matter.
Judge Randal B. Todd issued a 36-page opinion in the David L. Bradford case this morning.
Mr. Bradford was arrested on kidnapping and rape charges on Sept. 25, 2008, by Wilkinsburg police, stemming from an incident four days earlier.
According to court records, he is accused of abducting a woman at knifepoint and taking her to his apartment building, where he repeatedly sexually assaulted her.
At 6:30 the next morning, Mr. Bradford told the woman he was going to work, and she fled. The victim identified Mr. Bradford from a photo array.
At a preliminary hearing before District Judge Kevin E. Cooper on Oct. 9, 2008, the charges against Mr. Bradford were bound over to the Court of Common Pleas.
However, the transcript of the hearing wasn't sent to the court until April 20, 2009, and then there was no other activity on the case until Oct. 9 -- some 375 days after Mr. Bradford's arrest.
His defense attorney filed a motion in October asking that the case be dismissed because of 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.
In a response, the DA's office claimed that if the county Department of Court Records didn't receive the appropriate documents from the district judge then there are "no available tracking mechanisms to alert the commonwealth or the Court of Common Pleas that a case is not proceeding in a timely fashion." Therefore, prosecutors argued, the lapse in time was a judicial delay and should be excluded.
Judge Todd did not find that argument convincing and instead said it is the responsibility of the prosecution to monitor cases that have been heard at the preliminary hearing level.
"It would also certainly be reasonable to expect that when an assistant district attorney represents the Commonwealth and the victim in a preliminary hearing regarding a serious crime that some information concerning the outcome of the hearing is given to supervisors within the District Attorney's office particularly when the case has been held for court," Judge Todd wrote.
First Published December 29, 2009 12:47 pm