A Magistrate Court judge said this morning that there is enough evidence against a Hephzibah man accused of fatally shooting a Columbia County wastewater treatment plant employee for the case to proceed with prosecution in Superior Court.
Columbia County Chief Magistrate Judge Bobby Christine said at the preliminary hearing that investigators have sufficient probable cause in the case against Thomas Eugene Bradford, 42, to bind over to Superior Court for further investigation and prosecution of a murder charge.
Police say Bradford, a driver with Thomson-based Hudsons Grassing Co. Inc., shot and killed Raymond V. Lee, 38, of Grovetown. On April 1, Bradford was at the Reed Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Martinez to pick up a tractor trailer loaded with sludge.
"He (Bradford) basically said they (he and Lee) had been having problems for several years about trucks being overloaded," Columbia County sheriff's Investigator James Edmunds said.
Witnesses, who were about 100 yards away, said that Bradford dumped some of the load and Lee approached him with a shovel, which Bradford claims Lee threw at him. The pair argued.
Bradford said he got in his truck and moved it forward, possibly toward Lee, who put up his hands. Bradford got out of the truck with a pistol in his pocket and the pair continued to argue.
Witnesses said the pair began to physically fight, then Bradford broke free and shot Lee.
Bradford then called 911, put the gun on his truck and waited for police on his knees. A Georgia State Trooper arrived first and arrested Bradford.
Bradford told the trooper that "this got out of hand. He didn't want this to happen."
Bradford was represented by attorney Victor Hawk, who said that Bradford described the incident as happening very quickly.
"He happened so fast, he felt like he got hit on both sides of the face," Hawk said. "Then, the gun was in his hand."
Bradford is being held in the Columbia County Detention Center without bond.