"They came in and made an offer that we really couldn't refuse," said Kevin Abramovitz, the defense attorney for the suspect, 33-year-old David Bradford of Wilkinsburg. "I think the commonwealth recognized we weren't backing down and saw the weaknesses and limitations in their case."
Bradford was charged with rape, kidnapping and other crimes in September 2008 after allegedly assaulting a woman at knifepoint while they spent the evening together. He was arrested four days later and remained jailed after an Oct. 9, 2008 preliminary hearing found enough evidence for him to stand trial.
When a year elapsed without Bradford standing trial, his attorney filed a motion claiming Bradford's speedy trial rights had been violated. State law requires jailed inmates to have a trial within six months and defendants who are free on bond to be tried within a year.
An Allegheny County judge freed Bradford after 14 months in jail in December 2009, finding Allegheny County prosecutors had wrongly let the case slip through the cracks. The Superior Court, in an opinion authored by former Allegheny County District Attorney Robert Colville, agreed and upheld that decision until the state Supreme Court reversed it in May and ordered the charges reinstated.
The Supreme Court found prosecutors didn't violate Bradford's rights, and blamed the delay on a district judge, whose staff didn't forward paperwork on the case to Common Pleas Court so it could be scheduled and tried on time.
Bradford was to stand trial Wednesday, but was offered the plea bargain after the alleged victim decided she "did not want to testify, nor did she want to be a victim anymore," said District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr.
Zappala disagreed that the case was "weak" but said it would have been difficult to prove without the victim's testimony. "Charging something and ultimately proving something are two different matters," he said.
Abramovitz contends Bradford had consensual sex with the woman after they spent the evening together and watched a movie. He said records would have shown the woman made about a dozen calls while borrowing Bradford's cellphone that evening.
"I was confident we would walk out with an acquittal, but the risk (he) could go to prison for decades isn't worth it," Abramovitz said, explaining why Bradford took the no contest plea to a lesser charge.