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State v. Bradley

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

May 15, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
STEVEN D. BRADLEY

          APPEAL FROM CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 521-673, SECTION "C" Honorable Benedict J. Willard, Judge

          Sherry Watters LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT

          Leon Cannizzaro District Attorney Donna Andrieu Irena Zajickova Assistant District Attorney COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE/STATE OF LOUISIANA

          Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods

          Roland L. Belsome Judge.

         This criminal appeal is taken from the conviction and sentencing of Steven Bradley for conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and obstruction of justice in connection with the murders of Kenneth and Lakeitha Joseph. For the reasons that follow, Mr. Bradley's convictions and sentences are affirmed.

         Statement of Facts

         On February 18, 2014, Elosia Hayward loaned her silver Dodge Caravan van to her brother, Kenneth Joseph and his wife, Lakeitha Joseph (collectively "the Josephs"). When the van was not returned the following morning, Ms. Hayward telephoned the Josephs throughout the day but received no response. At around six or seven o'clock that evening, Ms. Hayward, her mother and her sister went to the Josephs' home in Reserve, Louisiana. Ms. Hayward's van was not there. Upon entering the residence and finding it ransacked, they filed a missing persons' report with the St. John the Baptist Parish authorities.

         Detective Sergeant Brian Schum of the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff's Office responded to the missing persons' report and met with Ms. Ernestine Joseph, who supplied him with the pertinent information on the Josephs. Det. Schum entered the Josephs' ransacked residence, and called the crime scene unit to process the residence. In the course of investigating the Josephs' disappearance, Detective Kirsten McAbee obtained cell phone records, which indicated that Lakeitha Joseph's last outgoing call was made the night of February 18, 2014. Further, the detective's analysis of the records indicated that Lakeitha's phone traveled from Reserve to LaPlace to Lutcher and, finally, to Kenner, Louisiana on that date. Det. McAbee confiscated a laptop computer and iPad from the Josephs' residence. During the course of her investigation, Det. McAbee obtained a search warrant for Horatio Johnson's residence at 2412 Van Arcle Drive in LaPlace, as well as the home of Brittany Martin, Horatio Johnson's girlfriend.[1]

         During the investigation, Ms. Hayword's van was located in an apartment complex parking lot by the Fulton County Georgia Police Department. The van was impounded and processed for forensic evidence. The forensic examiner located large blood stains on and under the second and third row seats, the floor mats and behind the side interior paneling. DNA evidence was also collected from the van.

         On March 10, 2014, Det. McAbee learned that Lakeitha Joseph's body was recovered from the Intracoastal Waterway in New Orleans. At that point, the matter became a murder investigation and was turned over to New Orleans Police Department Detective Ryan Vaught. Later, on March 22, 2014, Kenneth Joseph's body was recovered from the Intracoastal Waterway. The Josephs' ankles were bound by blue nylon rope, and a thirty-pound kettlebell was attached to the rope binding Kenneth Joseph's ankles. It was later determined by a forensic pathologist that Mrs. Joseph suffered several injuries including a subscapular hemorrhage on the left side of the head, indicative of blunt trauma, but she died of asphyxia by drowning. It was determined that Mr. Joseph had also died by drowning.

         The investigation led to the arrest of Horatio Johnson, Brittany Martin, Frank Mike and Steven Bradley.[2] After a jury trial, Horatio Johnson was found guilty of two counts of second degree murder, conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, and obstruction of justice. Brittany Martin pled guilty to obstruction of justice. Frank Mike pled guilty to conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, and two counts of obstruction of justice. Steven Bradley's jury trial resulted in his conviction for conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to fifteen years and thirty-five years respectively.[3]Steven Bradley (hereinafter "the Defendant") appealed.

         Assignments of Error

         On appeal, the Defendant maintains that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction for conspiracy to obstruct ...


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