ST. GEORGE — A St. George man appeared in court Monday for a preliminary hearing – where both sides argued whether he should be tried for murder – following a shooting that took place at an apartment complex off North Mall Drive in the summer of 2020.
During a hearing held in 5th District Court, 32-year-old Tommy Bradshaw Jr., charged with first-degree murder, appeared before District Judge Eric A. Ludlow.
The hearing stems from an incident on June 23, 2020, when officers and emergency personnel were dispatched to a reported shooting at the Legacy Ridge Apartments on 1990 East. The initial call reported it as a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
When officers arrived at the complex, they found 25-year-old Jamal “Tank” Goodman unresponsive, with an injury to his chest. He was transported to St. George Regional Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
At the scene, officers spoke to Bradshaw, who allegedly admitted to the shooting, telling officers his roommate returned home and knocked loudly on Bradshaw’s door, so he retrieved a handgun from his closet and located the victim hiding in a closet. Bradshaw said he shot the man who then fell to the ground, according to charging documents filed with the courts.
During Monday’s preliminary hearing, testimony was heard to determine if the case should be bound over for trial on the murder charge. St. George Police Lt. Rich Triplett was first to testify before the court as he summarized the events that took place shortly after police responded to the shooting call.
Triplett described how the two men, Bradshaw and Goodman, were roommates living together, and testified that Bradshaw had said he was stressed out over a girlfriend when his roommate returned from the gym and banged on his door.
It was then that Bradshaw grabbed the firearm from his closet, racked the slide and removed the safety as he walked through the apartment in search of his roommate.
When the suspect entered Goodman’s bedroom, Triplett said, he was directed toward the closet by another man who was in the room, and when Bradshaw looked in the closet, he found the roommate hiding behind a sheet.
“At that point, Bradshaw said he pointed the firearm at Mr. Goodman and said ‘Gotcha’ and pulled the trigger and shot Mr. Goodman in the chest,” Triplett said during his testimony.
The suspect said he ran back to his bedroom immediately after the shooting, removed the magazine from the gun and then hid the firearm in a laundry basket before calling 911.
Detectives at the hospital learned after speaking with treating physicians the bullet that entered Goodman’s chest perforated the aortic valve in the heart, which caused his death.
During cross examination, Defense Attorney Ryan Stout questioned Triplett who confirmed the investigation revealed that Bradshaw and his roommate were friends and their living situation prior to the incident appeared to be a good one. He also said that Bradshaw told police he was in an argument with his roommate just before Goodman went to the gym, but said it wasn’t a serious argument, only that the two were “talking crap to each other.”
Stout also asked the detective to go over the conversation with Bradshaw, who reportedly told officers he didn’t know there were any bullets in the clip when he grabbed the firearm. The suspect also told detectives when he found the roommate in the closet and said “Gotcha,” he was “playing around.”
Stout asked Triplett if his client had told police it was an accidental shooting, to which the detective said “yes.”
Stout said his client told officers during one of the interviews that had he known the gun was loaded, he would have removed the magazine before he ever went to Goodman’s bedroom.
Stout went over the 911 call made minutes after the shooting by Bradshaw, who “sounded pretty frantic,” and from the sound of the call, Stout said, the suspect just wanted to get help for his friend, statements the detective confirmed also after listening to the call months before.
Four to five hours after the shooting, Stout said, Bradshaw was interviewed for a second time, and when the suspect asked how Goodman was doing, it was Triplett who advised him the victim was dead – news that visibly upset his client – which Triplett confirmed during his testimony.
The question of intent was brought up during cross examination, and a significant amount of time was spent on how Bradshaw described his actions during the interviews with police.
Triplett said that during one of the interviews Bradshaw admitted to pointing the gun at his roommate and pulling the trigger – but that Bradshaw never said pulling the trigger was an accident, but he also never used the word “intentional.”
Weiland also examined the witness and went over Bradshaw’s statements made to police, saying it came out during the investigation that Bradshaw had shot the gun numerous times, was familiar with the firearm and that Bradshaw even mentioned to the officers how he had shot the gun in the air during a recent event.
The suspect also told officers he had one drink with vodka and juice on the night of the incident.
During closing arguments, Stout asked the court to not bind his client over on a murder charge, stating Bradshaw’s actions did not demonstrate a depraved indifference to human life, which under the law is not contingent upon “a single tragic result,” but instead focuses on the defendant’s actions.
Instead, Stout said, his client’s actions resulted in an unintended consequence, which lacks intent and also lacks any evidence that his client demonstrated the depraved indifference necessary for the charge.
Weiland countered by saying Bradshaw kept the firearm loaded inside the apartment and then grabbed the gun before seeking out his roommate – “which showed what his intentions were.”
The suspect then walked into Goodman’s room and fired a single shot into his chest.
Weiland went on to say that Bradshaw had a history of firing the weapon when he was upset, judging from several prior incidents, and then he shot and killed Goodman – evidence he demonstrated depraved indifference since he knew his actions would have led to the man’s death. He then asked the court to bind Bradshaw over for trial on murder.
Depraved indifference is a critical element in this case, since the murder charge requires one of three elements: intent, the killing of another during the commission of another crime, or depraved indifference.
Under Utah law, depraved indifference to human life is defined as an utter disregard for the value of human life – combined with a willingness to act, not because he or she means to cause grievous harm, but because he or she simply does not care whether or not grievous harm will result.
It is the wonton conduct that is completely deficient in a moral sense and devoid of any regard for the lives of others – and there must be a high likelihood that death will result from their actions, and that death does in fact result from those actions.
The intent behind the arguments was to establish whether the evidence was sufficient to hold a trial.
During his ruling, Ludlow said that while Bradshaw may not have stated he was intentionally going to kill the victim, the evidence presented during the hearing made it clear the suspect’s actions “stated otherwise.”
Ludlow also said any inferences made during the hearing are favorable to the state, and then he ordered that Bradshaw be bound over to trial for murder.
This ruling means the court found sufficient evidence to require that Bradshaw be tried for murder under the bindover standard, which is much lower and does not require an evaluation of all of the evidence to determine the most reasonable inference to be drawn from – such as weighing one plausible option over another, for example.
Instead, it only asks whether the evidence could support a reasonable jury’s decision to convict, and as Ludlow stated during his decision, all evidence presented during the preliminary hearing is viewed in the light most favorable to the state.
A trial date has yet to be scheduled.
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