Guilty verdict in PG shooting
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Sep 4, 2013, 15:00
PRINCE GEORGE — A man was convicted Tuesday of the attempted robbery and malicious injury of a husband and wife who own a barbecue restaurant in Hopewell and faces up to 42 years in prison.
Harry Brantley Jr., 24, was found guilty of six felony charges including two counts of attempted robbery, two counts of using a firearm while attempting a robbery, malicious wounding and the use of a firearm while maliciously wounding an individual.
“We’re pleased with the outcome,” said Prince George Commonwealth’s Attorney Jay Paul said. “[The jury has shown] they’re not going to tolerate these kind of acts in Prince George County.”
Brantley, dressed in a blue button down shirt and khakis, received his guilty verdicts with his head down and his cheek resting on his fist, and remained relatively emotionless when he heard the jury’s recommendation.
The 12-person jury was given a wide range of sentencing options with a mandatory minimum 22 years of imprisonment and a maximum 53 years of imprisonment. The final recommendation of 42 years is not a finalized sentencing, but rather a suggestion for the judge who will ultimately decide Brantley’s sentence in October.
Brantley has previously been convicted of multiple felonies including but not limited to grand larceny in 2004, robbery in 2008 and a robbery in April of this year that earned him a suggested nine years in prison by a jury. Police said the latter robbery of a McDonald’s was connected to a string of robberies, occurring between December 2011 and January 2012, in which authorities gave the robber the moniker “The Paper Bag Bandit,” however Brantley was only convicted of the one offense.
On Tuesday, during a trial that lasted for almost 10 hours, the commonwealth warned the jury that they must inflict the maximum punishment upon Brantley to ensure the public’s safety.
“His lifestyle presents a danger to everybody” and “he hasn’t learned anything about living a normal life,” said Cecile Hamilton, assistant commonwealth’s attorney, in reference to Brantley’s previous criminal history.
Defense attorney Terry Driskill advised the jury to hand Brantley the minimum punishment and “give him a chance to have another life sometime in the future.”
“This is a country of second chances,” he said.
The trial included testimony from five witnesses as well as photos depicting scenes of the crime scene.
The commonwealth stated that the attempted robbery took place on February 10, 2012, at the Hines Road residence of Kenneth and Linda Purdie, owners of the K & L Barbecue restaurant. They returned home late in the evening after a week’s worth of work to find Brantley hiding in their garage wielding a gun in an attempt to steal Kenneth’s deposit money that he brought home in a briefcase every Friday night. The altercation ended with multiple gunshots, one that sent Kenneth to the hospital.
The Purdies left the restaurant at about 8:30 p.m. shortly after closing and got home around 9 p.m. where Kenneth parked his truck in the garage, Linda said during her testimony.
As she got out of the truck, she noticed a person was standing in front of her with a beige bag over his head with eye and mouth holes cut out of it and a gun in his hand, Linda said.
After the man said “Don’t move,” Linda grabbed him by the arm that was holding the gun, and he then pushed her to the ground pinning her. “[I was] scared. I was thinking this guy was gonna kill us,” Linda said.
Shortly after, she heard two quick gunshots.
When Kenneth got out of the truck, he hadn’t seen the intruder, so he opened the back door to retrieve his briefcase when he heard Linda say the words, “He’s got a gun.” Kenneth keeps a gun in his truck, and when he stood back up with his gun in his hands, he got shot in the collarbone.
It felt “like a bee sting or something,” Kenneth recalled during his testimony.
He returned fire after being hit and saw the man flinch and drop a bag before fleeing from the garage. “I [came] out of the garage chasing behind him,” when the man began firing more gunshots, and “[I started] unloading my gun where the flash came from,” Kenneth testified.
Kenneth returned back to the garage and told Linda to call 911 because he had been shot, Linda said. She said she rode in the ambulance with him where he had “blood running out of his shoulder.”
Kenneth said he was initially sent for medical treatment in Petersburg and then transported by helicopter to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond where they broke his ribs to stick a tube into his lung because they thought it was collapsing.
Authorities found a pink backpack at the scene of the crime, the contents of which included duct tape, a set of keys and a bag of turkey franks, said Detective Anthony Reed, who assisted in the arrest of Brantley.
The commonwealth argued that the duct tape was for securing victims and that the turkey franks would appease any potential dog or pet the Purdies may have had.
The defense argued that “what was inside the bag was irrelevant.”
After further DNA analysis, it was determined that DNA consistent with Brantley’s was found on the contents of the backpack but not on the outside of the backpack, and that DNA consistent with Kenneth’s was found on the outside of the backpack, which were agreed to be regarded as factual statements by both the commonwealth and the defense.
Jasmine Reid, who was dating Brantley at the time of the incident, testified that the backpack was hers, that Brantley had easy access to the closet she kept the backpack in and that Brantley had borrowed her car without saying where he was going on the night of the shooting.
Reid said Brantley had been living with her and her then 5-year-old son, and that she was throwing a surprise birthday party for her son on Feb. 10. When the party was over between 8 and 9 p.m., she said she ended up going to a friend’s house where she received a phone call from Brantley at around 11 p.m. telling her to “walk home.”
When she was dropped off at her house around 11:30 p.m., Reid said that Brantley was bleeding on the couch holding his shoulder, and that he told her he shot someone and someone shot him back.
In the defense’s opening arguments, it was stated that Brantley had been at another non-related party on that evening in which an altercation between Brantley and another individual at the party resulted in gunshots.
Brantley did not receive medical treatment, but instead cleaned himself up with paper towels and a peroxide solution before taking a shower where she overheard him say “I should have took the money” twice, Reid said.
When asked why she never decided to call the police and then initially lied when the police first investigated her, Reid said she had never been in a situation like that before and was trying to protect her boyfriend.
The defense argued that Reid’s testimony was discredited because she had admitted to lying to authorities early on in the investigation.
Photographic evidence showed matching small round injuries on the front of Brantley’s chest by his right armpit and on the back of his right shoulder.
“He told me he’d been burnt by a cigarette” and then later changed the story saying he had been stabbed, testified Detective Anthony Reed with the Prince George police.
There were no other reported gunshots in Prince George or in surrounding jurisdictions on the evening of Feb. 10, 2012, Reed said.
During closing arguments, the commonwealth stated that based on an “overwhelming amount of circumstantial and scientific evidence” and “everything coming together,” Brantley is the only person who could have committed these crimes.
The defense argued that the commonwealth did not sufficiently fulfill the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Brantley was guilty.
Brantley had previously been tried for these charges in May, but it ended in a mistrial when video evidence during the trial accidentally showed footage of questioning that involved information regarding Brantley’s alternate charges in Hopewell.