BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Jurors on Tuesday have recommended convicted killer Brandon Bradley be sentenced to death for killing Brevard County Deputy Barbara Pill in 2012.
Attorneys for Bradley were pushing for life in prison without the possibility of parole, saying it would be punishment enough, but prosecutors were trying to send the 24-year-old to Florida's death row for the murder.
The jury came back with a vote of 10-2 in favor of the death sentence. The judge will take the jury's recommendation into consideration and will announce Bradley's sentence at a later date.
Childhood abuse was just one of the mitigating factors Bradley’s attorneys want jurors to consider as they decide whether to recommend life in prison or the death penalty.
Assistant State Attorney Jim McMaster said the aggravators far outweigh any mitigation in the case.
McMaster didn't dispute that Bradley was the victim of child abuse, but he pointed out that Bradley's brothers were, too, and they were not criminals.
As far as Bradley's drug use, McMaster called that a choice and also questioned the defense testimony about any cognitive and psychological impairment.
McMaster and the prosecution described Bradley as a cold, premeditated killer who decided to kill rather than return to prison and they gave jurors a number of reasons to recommend the death penalty.
But jurors only need to find one aggravator to recommend the death penalty, and prosecutors offered up everything from premeditation to fleeing from another criminal act.
But defense attorney Randy Moore is pushing for life in prison.
"Life without parole is always an option, always. Mercy is always an option," said Moore.
"This is not this defendant's first rodeo," said McMaster. "This defendant has had numerous, numerous chances."
On Friday, two of Bradley’s brothers detailed a childhood plagued by violence, and their testimony brought Bradley to tears.
Bradley, who is taking mood-altering medication, has sat expressionless for most of the trial, but Friday was the exception.
His brother, Keith Nelson, told jurors how there was no refuge from a verbally and physically abusive stepfather.
"Sometimes he’d just walk in the room and punch you in the face for no reason," Nelson said.
Nelson told the jury Bradley ran away from home as a teenager, and the beating continued when he returned home.
Prosecutors said Pill's murder was an act of premeditation. Bradley was on probation at time of the shooting and fleeing from another crime.
Prosecutors argue Bradley was simply trying to avoid arrest when he killed Pill, who was performing her duties as a member of law enforcement.
"This defendant has armed himself and is making the conscious decision that he is willing to kill rather than going back to prison," said McMaster.
If jurors find just one aggravator that isn't outweighed by the mitigating circumstances laid out by the defense, they can recommend death.
And unlike Bradley's conviction, the decision does not have to be unanimous. A recommendation of death only requires the majority of the jury.