Prosecution proceeds in water department slaying

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 10:25 AM
Last updated 11:39 AM
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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.

Bradford  Columbia County jail photo
Columbia County jail photo
Bradford


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.

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Ushouldnthave
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Ushouldnthave 05/03/11 - 04:45 pm
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.

.

Patty-P
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Patty-P 05/03/11 - 11:12 am
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Ushouldnthave...I think

Ushouldnthave...I think that's a typo.

Patty-P
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Patty-P 05/03/11 - 01:30 pm
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@Republic71...there was a

@Republic71...there was a typo (which has been corrected), that stated 'Edmunds told the trooper...'

Adder
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Adder 05/03/11 - 03:26 pm
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Sounds like a clear cut case
Unpublished

Sounds like a clear cut case of self-defense to me. Why didn't the county waterman simply call the police and make a report ? It's obvious the two had an ongoing personality conflict. But if I argued with someone, threw a shovel at them and then engaged in fisticuffs and then tried to stop them from leaving the area so I could attack them again I imagine I would likely get shot. Sounds like the county waterman simply picked the wrong fellow to try an boss around.

ddawg202
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ddawg202 05/03/11 - 05:01 pm
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Umm...the defendent said that

Umm...the defendent said that Raymond threw a shovel, not the witnesses. You need to read a little closer Adder. Seriously, pay attention next time. The murderer is lying through his teeth to try and save his rear.

Patty-P
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Patty-P 05/03/11 - 06:21 pm
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key point: Bradford broke

key point: Bradford broke free ...

momknowsbest
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momknowsbest 05/03/11 - 07:17 pm
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I sat in court today and the

I sat in court today and the way this article is worded makes these things seem as facts. The defense attorney was coming up with any senerio possiable to make his client look not guilty.First of all Bradford and Mr. Lee have not had problems for several years because Mr. Lee just got to that plant in December. Bradford has had problems with whoever was working. The investigator stated that the men argued over Bradford dumping sludge on the ground but that Mr. Lee WALKED AWAY! Mr. Bradford then got in his truck and proceeded towards Mr. Lee as if he was going to run over him. They left out the part where the TWO witnesses stated that Thomas Bradford exited his truck with his gun drawn out. Of course there was an "altercation" wouldn't you fight for your life if someone ran up on you with a gun?? And Adder- you should be ashamed of yourself for your comments..nobody deserves to die by a gun for a verbal disagreement!!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/03/11 - 07:24 pm
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As I detailed before and as

As I detailed before and as is apparently coming out in the facts, this is going to be a complicated case.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/03/11 - 07:28 pm
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Point of fact, it was the

Point of fact, it was the witnesses who said Lee approached with the shovel.

"Witnesses said the pair began to physically fight..."

This is the whole case here. Who started the fight? Did Lee still have the shovel? Did Bradford pull the gun out before the fight started?

augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 05/03/11 - 08:06 pm
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Riverman1, but it says the

Riverman1, but it says the witnesses said, "Lee approached him with a shovel", then Bradford claims, "Lee threw it at him". Was Lee's job one where having a shovel would have been the norm in his duties? If someone "approached" me with a shovel, I wouldn't feel threatened, especially if they were, say planting azaleas, digging a hole, etc. Even if someone threw a shovel at me, other than minor injuries, how much damage can a thrown shovel cause? A laceration, a bruise? I don't know either individual, and am recalling info. from a number of articles, not just this one, but if someone threw a shovel at me, I wouldn't feel that I had a right to shoot them, and no one is a bigger advocate of our 2nd amendment rights than me. I believe "an armed society is a polite society", but self defense and a short fuse are two different things and a short fuse is seeming to be the case in this one, from what I've read thus far.

momknowsbest
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momknowsbest 05/03/11 - 08:09 pm
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Witnesses say that Mr. Lee

Witnesses say that Mr. Lee approched him with a shovel..they left out .. "and threw the shovel on top of the pile of sludge and told him to clean it up". Witnesses say they began to physically fight..they left out "after Bradford approched him with his gun drawn" Actually I think this case case is pretty cut and dry. Two crediable county employee witnesses words against one gun carrying redneck.

Patty-P
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Patty-P 05/03/11 - 08:18 pm
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It sounds to me like someone

It sounds to me like someone lost their temper. It doesn't seem as if Lee threw the shovel at him to physically hurt him. But it is important to know who started the physical altercation. If Bradford was being overpowered, they could claim it was self-defense.

ddawg202
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ddawg202 05/03/11 - 08:20 pm
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Thank you momknowsbest! I

Thank you momknowsbest! I wish I could have been with all of you this morning! We know the truth and soon everyone else will, but until that day comes people need to realize the media doesn't report everything. I wish some of the ridiculousness that was spoken today would have been reported.

augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 05/03/11 - 08:24 pm
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This is too sad, first that

This is too sad, first that Mr. Lee lost his life, second, that another man will live the rest of eternity with this guilt. I wish everything had gone differently that day.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/03/11 - 08:43 pm
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AugustaCitizen, you are

AugustaCitizen, you are absolutely right whether Lee would have ordinarily had a shovel in his possession on that job is a key point. I almost said something along those lines in my earlier comment. But are we getting at another key point? If he didn't ordinarily have a shovel, but picked one up and came back toward Bradford, how would that be interpreted? Did Lee routinely use a shovel on his job?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/03/11 - 08:49 pm
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I try to look at things in a

I try to look at things in a reasonable way and get past the emotionalism, but what bothers me and most of us is that Bradford brought a gun into the situation regardless of what Lee had done. Bradford could have fought back with his fists if Lee became physical with him or he could have called the police when Lee wouldn't let him leave. That's something he's going to always regret no matter if he gets off from this killing. These were two, hard working southern guys and the way to settle things is not with a gun. There are other situations of self-protection where the gun may be appropriate.

Patty-P
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Patty-P 05/03/11 - 08:59 pm
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Riverman :)....I would guess

Riverman :)....I would guess that due to the nature of their jobs, either one would use a shovel and keep one handy on the job. Sounds like Bradford's truck was overloaded and he dumped some of it. Lee probably got the shovel and told Bradford to clean it up (as momknowsbest said above). If Lee threw the shovel at him, it probably made Bradford mad.

KSL
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KSL 05/03/11 - 09:03 pm
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I certainly would think that

I certainly would think that a private contractor would have the right to refuse to haul an illegal load. He should have taken the problem to his employer or to the supervisor of the deceased, and upward if needed.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/03/11 - 09:09 pm
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Patty, my friend, that could

Patty, my friend, that could very well be. Maybe Lee used a shovel often and had one right there. When he picked it up, it was not intended to be used as a weapon. A shovel is certainly a deadly implement if it hits someone, but it could be Lee was only shoveling something or telling Bradford to use it and threw it his way in the sludge.

ddawg202
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ddawg202 05/03/11 - 09:05 pm
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KSL, you have it

KSL, you have it backward...the private contractor or murderer was the one trying to haul an illegal load and the victim and supervisor told him to stop.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/03/11 - 09:11 pm
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Ddawg202, how was the load

Ddawg202, how was the load illegal? Is it a traffic violation to haul a load that's improper?

augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 05/03/11 - 09:13 pm
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You make a good point

You make a good point Riverman1, these guys could have just duked it out, if they felt the need to do that, there was only a 4 year age spread, so not like a 25 year old versus a 75 year old. I don't have a problem with someone having a gun in their possession if they were licensed to carry and it didn't violate company policy, but having one and pulling one are two different things. I don't know anything other than what I've read, it still sounds like an anger problem to me, but I certainly could be wrong.

ddawg202
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ddawg202 05/03/11 - 09:14 pm
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They have to follow

They have to follow procedures and illegal may be the wrong word, but against regulations. The load has to be a certain weight and the murderer was not following procedure.

Patty-P
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Patty-P 05/03/11 - 09:19 pm
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I say don't believe

I say don't believe everything you read in a news article. Stories are always conflicting....This from an earlier article in the Chronicle....

...Bradford, who hauled sludge from wastewater treatment plants to facilities in Jefferson and Lincoln counties, was about to put a ripped tarp on his truck when someone told him to replace it, and an argument started, said County Commission Chairman Ron Cross....

who is 'someone'? Is it necessary to dump the sludge in order to replace the tarp?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/03/11 - 09:20 pm
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Ddawg, exactly. He broke a

Ddawg, exactly. He broke a regulation that could have been resolved with the company or in a CIVIL lawsuit. Lee certainly can't take it upon himself to prevent the man from leaving. But, as I've said, this whole matter disgusts me as it does y'all. Bradford's actions resulted in a horrific outcome no matter his perceived justification.

AugustaCitizen, you mention Bradford is only a little older than Lee. Good point. Do you know their comparative sizes?

ddawg202
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ddawg202 05/03/11 - 09:29 pm
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It was Raymond's job to tell

It was Raymond's job to tell him to stop, he was a supervisor at the plant. What I would like you to know is that the defense he is trying is absolutely ridiculous and when it is reported trust me all your theories will be out the window. Bradford has spoken to investigators and he is now trying to grasp at straws by lying to save his own life. He is truly an evil person because he has no true remorse and only feels sorry for himself.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/03/11 - 09:33 pm
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I have no doubt, it was Lee's

I have no doubt, it was Lee's job to tell him to stop.

Bradford speaking to investigators is significant. Maybe he shouldn't have? Hard to say. What he told them certainly appears favorable to him.

KSL
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KSL 05/03/11 - 09:34 pm
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ddawg, I may have it wrong. I

ddawg, I may have it wrong. I just got what I said from reading the article: 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.

Care to explain why Bradford would dump part of the load if he wanted to haul an overload????

ddawg202
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ddawg202 05/03/11 - 09:35 pm
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Actually, not at all!

Actually, not at all!

KSL
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KSL 05/03/11 - 09:39 pm
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I may have it wrong. If

I may have it wrong. If Bradford did indeed want to haul an overload, he, according to the article, dumped part of his load and Lee approached him with a shovel. If you read the article with no personal knowledge of the situation, you will come to the same conclusion that I did. Should I assume you have some inside information?

I'm so durned glad I don't live in Columbia County.

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