Bradley found guilty in Duquesne murder
A jury has found Omar Bradley, 18, of Duquesne, guilty of murder in the first degree for the shooting death of Charles Gibson, 24.
The shooting occurred just after 8 p.m. Aug. 20 on Seward Street in Duquesne.
Gibson, also of Duquesne, was in a group of six young people on the narrow side street when Bradley appeared at its intersection with West Grant Avenue, pulled out a gun and shot Gibson as he sat on a row house stoop rolling a marijuana blunt.
The bullet struck Gibson in the right temple and lodged in his brain.
He died later at Allegheny General Hospital.
Bradley was arrested Aug. 30 hiding out in a house in Swissvale.
The case against Bradley, who cried in the courtroom when the guilty verdict was announced, was based largely on the account of a 21-year-old female witness who identified Bradley as the shooter.
Now under witness protection, she testified during the trial that Bradley stood for about five or 10 seconds looking at the group from W. Grant Street before reaching to the right side of his waist, pulling a gun and firing it into the group of people on Seward Street.
Bradley did not testify Friday on the third and final day of the trial and his attorney, public defender Robert Foreman, did not call any character witnesses or present any evidence, either.
Before resting his case, Foreman again raised questions about the reliability of the testimony from the key witness, reminding the jury she had initially denied to police that she'd witnessed the incident and only named Bradley as the culprit two days later after police again had contacted her about the shooting.
The defense attorney said she only fingered Bradley to police because she wanted to take advantage of benefits associated with the witness protection program, namely getting a new apartment for her and her three children and acquiring some financial assistance.
“This is what she's been looking for,” he said.
The witness and prosecutors have denied such claims by the defense, saying the witness talked to police before any such offers were on the table.
Foreman on Thursday announced in the courtroom the address to which police had moved the witness.
In his closing argument he explained to the jury his reason for doing so was that he'd discovered a charge of reckless endangerment of the welfare of a child had been filed against the witness at that location.
Foreman said the charge was filed Oct. 22 in relation to an incident where her children were out of the house without supervision. He questioned the motives of the district attorney's office for not yet holding a preliminary hearing on the matter.
Foreman said the witness never needed to be in the protection program and said of Bradley, “He's not dangerous.”
Prosecutor Robert Schupansky said Bradley is dangerous to the point that after Foreman announced her home address the witness “had to be moved with her three children in a police car in the middle of a snow
storm” Thursday night.
Police said the witness and her family are in a new safe location,
Schupansky said the witness “was branded a snitch” by testifying when in reality she is a hero.
“She moved backward by coming forward,” Schupansky told the jury, reminding them she can no longer go back to her old neighborhood and be with her mother and friends.
The verdict, which was announced in Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kathleen Durkin's courtroom after about 90 minutes of deliberation by the jury, was met by a strong outpouring of emotions by the family of the victim and the defendant.
“There's no physical evidence that my son did that. They put him at the scene,” said Banisha Berry, who is Bradley's mother. “(The key witness) lied to the jurors.”
Berry said the family will appeal the case after Bradley's sentencing hearing April 18.
The victim's mother, Yvette Gibson, of Duquesne, said on her way out of the courthouse, “God is good. It's a relief. Justice is served.”
Yvette Gibson said she wasn't sure how well her son knew Bradley or if they knew each other at all.
She said she did know Bradley's mother and that the killing was a tragedy for both of them.
“She lost a child and so did I,” she said.