Jury picked, in case of man accused of fatally shooting Columbia County plant employee

Jurors will go to wastewater plant
Thomas Eugene Bradford (left) talks to his attorney, Victor Hawk, while waiting for the start of jury selection in his trial for the shooting death of Raymond V. Lee at the Reed Creek Water Pollution Control Plant on April 1.

A jury chosen Monday will hear opening statements today in the case of a Hephzibah man accused of shooting a Columbia County wastewater treatment plant employee last April.


Thomas Eugene Bradford, 43, is accused of fatally shooting 38-year-old Raymond V. Lee, of Grovetown, at a Martinez wastewater treatment plant on April 1.

Prosecutor Geoffrey Fogus asked Superior Court Judge J. David Roper for permission to take the jury to the wastewater treatment plant to show jurors where the shooting occurred and where witnesses were when they saw it.

“I intend to permit a scene visit,” Roper said. Court proceedings were closed Monday, citing security issues, to discuss the details of a potential visit.

Fogus and Bradford’s attorney, Victor Hawk, questioned potential jurors for about three hours Monday morning in the Columbia County courthouse in Evans. They selected a 12-member jury and two alternates.

Opening statements are expected to begin at 9 a.m. today. The trial is expected to last four to five days.

Authorities say Bradford, a driver for Thomson-based Hudsons Grassing Co. Inc., and Lee argued at the Reed Creek Water Pollution Control Plant on Stevens Creek Road in Martinez on April 1.

Witnesses said during the argument and fight between the men, Bradford brandished a pistol and shot Lee.

Bradford called 911 and waited at the scene until he was arres-

In May, Bradford was indicted on charges of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

He pleaded not guilty to those charges in June.

Attorneys also discussed several pretrial motions, taken up after the jury was excused, including Hawk’s intention to present an expert witness specializing in visual perception and factors affecting it.

“The time it takes for sound to travel certain distances and visual acuity at that distance,” Hawk explained.

Roper said he would wait to hear the background of the witness before deeming him an expert.

Fogus also opposed Hawk’s intention to bring up information about guns at the treatment plant other than Bradford’s and Bradford’s belief that Lee knew martial arts.

“It is relevant to what he thought he was facing when he decided to defend himself,” Hawk said.

Hawk insinuated that Bradford would testify in his own defense.

Bradford didn’t have to make the decision Monday, but he was warned that he couldn’t invoke his Fifth Amendment right once on the stand and that he would be subject to Fogus’ cross examination.

“It’s either all or nothing if you take the stand,” Roper said.

Bradford is being held in the Columbia County Detention Center without bond, according to jail records.