April 23, 2019 10:18:20 AM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
Tomas Bradford was sentenced to 30 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections on Monday for a 2016 armed robbery and deadly shooting.
Bradford, 18, was charged with armed robbery and second-degree murder stemming from a March 4, 2016, incident at Camelot Apartments. He pleaded guilty to the robbery charge and the lesser charge of manslaughter on Monday in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court.
Mississippi 16th Circuit Judge Lee Howard sentenced Bradford to 10 years in MDOC for the armed robbery charge and 20 years for manslaughter. The sentences are to run consecutively.
According to Assistant District Attorney Marc Amos, Bradford, along with Abdural Lee and Decorian Coleman, robbed Neal Anderson while striking him with a stick after a game of dice at the apartments. Amos said Anderson had lost $50 to $100 during the game, but the other men were aware he had more money and were attempting to take it.
During the robbery, Anderson, who was armed, shot Coleman, 17, in the head and killed him.
Amos said Bradford faced a murder charge because he, Coleman and Lee agreed to rob Anderson, which led to Coleman's death.
"Since there was an agreement and they all participated in it, the act of one is the act of all, and it was certainly reasonable for Mr. Anderson to defend himself while he was being robbed," Amos said. "Therefore that act would constitute the unlawful killing of Decorian Coleman."
Lee, who has also been charged with armed robbery and second-degree murder, pleaded guilty to robbery in July 2018. Amos said Lee hasn't been sentenced yet, but the prosecution hopes to resolve that during the current court term.
As part of Bradford's plea deal, the state retired a first-degree murder charge against him for an August 2017 shooting at the Brooksville Garden Apartments. In that case, Bradford was charged with shooting and killing 20-year-old Deontay M. Rogers.
Sandford Knott, a Jackson attorney representing Bradford, said his client may be eligible for early release on the manslaughter charge. Knott declined to comment further on the case, allowing Bradford's family to speak instead.
Emotions among Bradford's family ran high after Monday's court proceedings. His mother, Theresa Bradford, said she was dissatisfied with the stiff sentence Howard issued.
"There needs to be justice for Tomas," she said. "It's a lose-lose situation. He didn't actually kill anyone. I wish it would have been a lighter sentence."
Bradford's father, Thomas Belk, said he understood why some of the family was upset. However, he said the sentencing could have been worse if Bradford had gone to trial, as he was scheduled to on April 29.
"I'm pleased that I still have my son," Belk said. "He could have been killed as well as his friends.
"I know people are emotional now, and they might not understand now, but I hope they come to understand that this was the best offer he was going to get," he continued. "Emotions are high now, but the sun will come up tomorrow."
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