On Friday, February 10, 2012, the convicted killer of Ben Bradley was officially sentenced to life in prison. He will be eligible for a parole hearing in sixteen years.
The judge denied the motion for retrial submitted last month by the defense. In addition to sentencing, the judge ruled that the murderer must also pay $15,000 in restitution to the Bradley family.
The hearing took place in the Criminal Court Building in downtown Los Angeles. Present in the courtroom were Ben’s brother, Micheal Hill; the Fountain’s Deborah Lawlor, Simon Levy, and Stephen Sachs; actress Lisa Pelikan; and theater journalist (and Fountain friend) Dany Margolies.
When asked by the judge if he wished to make a statement or had anything to say, the murderer said “No”. He was then led away in handcuffs. To spend the rest of his life in prison.
As invoked in the final line of The Ballad of Emmett Till, the play Ben was directing two years ago when he was brutally murdered:
In the Criminal Court Building in downtown Los Angeles on January 3, 2012, almost two years to the day that the brutal murder was committed, the judge announced that the killer of Ben Bradley can expect a sentence of life in prison with eligibility for parole in 16 years.
Several members of the Fountain Family were present in the courtroom to give Victim Impact Statements. Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs represented the Fountain with a passionate eloquent plea, repeating the phrase “Everybody loved Ben”; Producing Director Simon Levy read a beautiful letter from theatre critic Dany Margolies of Back Stage; Adolphus Ward, one of our beloved actors, spoke movingly about the larger impact of Ben’s murder, intoning “one man killed, many died” ; Rebecca Lackner, a friend of Ben’s brother, read a letter from sound designer David Marling; Barbara Ramsey, subscriber and friend, spoke lovingly of Ben’s impact on her son; and Ben’s brother, Micheal Hill, spoke of the heartache to his family and the uniqueness that was Ben’s spirit. Others from the Fountain Community — actors, designers, friends — were there to show their support and solidarity on Ben’s behalf.
The defense filed a perfunctory retrial motion (standard procedure). There will be a procedural hearing on Feb 10 for the judge to officially rule on the retrial motion but he already said in court that, barring some extraordinary circumstance, he will deny it. And the legal process will be over. And prison time will begin.
The judge remarked in court that it was clear that Ben was widely loved and admired, and that the proceeding that morning was “a sad day”. He also commented that he had deliberated many murder cases in his long career as a judge. This crime was particularly brutal. Referring to the sentence and the obligatory retrial motion by the defense, the judge looked to the killer sitting opposite at the defense table and said “don’t get your hopes up” about any option other than life in prison.
Our deep thanks to those who were able to be there in court with us on Ben’s behalf, and to all of you who sent emails of support. We love you all.
Fountain Reacts with Gratitude and Sad Relief: “Justice is Done”.
The Fountain Theatre announced last week that a guilty verdict has been reached in the trial of the man accused of murdering longtime Fountain director/producer Ben Bradley.
The defendant was found guilty of second-degree felony murder on November 23 in the Los Angeles Superior Court Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles, following a three-week trial that began on November 3. Closing arguments took place on November 21, with the jury deliberating for about a day and half before reaching the verdict. Present in the courtroom when the verdict was read were Bradley’s brother, Michael Hill, a resident of Virginia; Fountain Producing Director Simon Levy; and Fountain Co-Artistic Director Deborah Lawlor. The verdict carries a sentence of 16 years to life. Sentencing is scheduled for January 3.
“All of us in the Fountain family are pleased and relieved by the verdict and grateful that the trial phase of this horrific nightmare is over,” wrote Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs in a statement. “We thank Los Angeles District Attorney Mario Haidar and the team of detectives, led by Matthew Gares, who did such an excellent job on this case. Justice is done. But no matter the verdict or severity of the sentence, justice does not wield the power to bring Ben back to us. With that truth, comes the painful reality that justice can never be fully served in our hearts.”
Prior to his death on January 1, 2010, Ben had been with the Fountain Theatre for over seventeen years as a producer, director, and the Director of Audience Development. Ben was in rehearsal for The Ballad of Emmett Till when he was murdered. Prior to that, Ben had directed the Fountain’s critically acclaimed production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean (LADCC Awards for Production of the Year and Best Director). He received the 2006 OVATION Award and the 2007 NAACP Award for his direction of the Fountain’s critically acclaimed production of August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. Other directorial credits at the Fountain includeLady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (winner of the NAACP Award for Best Actress) and Direct from Death Row: The Scottsboro Boys(winner of Best Ensemble, L.A. Weekly Award, and Best Ensemble, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award). Ben produced the Fountain’s acclaimed productions of Photograph 51, Yellowman, Master Class and Central Avenue, and co–produced the Fountain’sThe Darker Face of the Earth, IAm AMan, and Four by Tennessee. Before joining the Fountain Theatre family, Ben worked at the Los Angeles Theatre Center as Lobby Subscription Manager. Ben was born in Wilkes County, Georgia, but his family moved to Baltimore, MD when he was very young. He was a graduate of Carroll College in Wisconsin, where he majored in theater.