Knight’s case, the nurse from Torrance, CA
An appeals court on Monday, March 13th of 2017 insisted on the conviction of an Orange County engineer for murdering in 1979 a 28-year-old Torrance nurse he had briefly dated.
Douglas Gordon Bradford was convicted on Dec. 12, 2014, to 26 years to life in jail in the strangulation of Lynne Knight.
Bradford, 65, said that someone else committed the crime, calling Knight’s killing “a tragedy,” but telling the court shortly before sentencing, “I am an innocent man wrongly convicted. I am mad as hell I am compensating for someone else’s offense.”
Bradford’s lawyer appealed on the basis that much of the circumstantial proof at trial should not have been allowed and that the jury should have said something about two other potential suspects interviewed by police.
Bradford’s appeals lawyer also argued that Bradford prejudiced by more than 30-year delay in recapitulating the murder.
The three-justice claims panel of the Second District Court of Appeal found no prejudicial error.
The group’s ruling laid out the terrible aspects of Knight’s death at her Anza Avenue house.
“Around 3:00 a.m. August 30, 1979, Knight, murdered in her back-lot apartment. While Knight laid in her mattress, naked, the killer sat astride her and pushed on her neck with a homemade garrote — which is, a piece of wire strung between two pieces of wood,” the court’s opinion stated. “The killer crushed her windpipe, so Knight’s cries sounded similar to the cries of an agonizing animal.
“Unable to kill her with the garrote, the killer got up, got a 10-inch knife from her kitchen and progressed to ‘slice, dice and butcher’ her, eventually cutting her femoral artery. Knight bled to death.”
Bradford dated Knight, who served as a neonatal nurse at Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance, for nearly four months earlier that year.
Knight broke off the contact, which Bradford wanted to be exclusive, in June. The next day he appeared uninvited and found her with another person.
“Defendant was infuriated, called her a ‘goddamn whore,’ and threw a lamp at her,” according to the appeals panel view.
Deputy District Attorney John Lewin said at court that Bradford was “obsessed” with Knight and held a photo of her in his desk as a “prize.”
Bradford offered an alibi for the crime, saying he was out sailing at night with no lights and did not get back until 3 a.m. due to the wind had died out. He said he had to row the boat back to the marina with a four-foot oar, according to court documents.
Police interrupted the investigation in 1982 for lack of sufficient proof and then reopened the case in 2000. In 2007, they searched Bradford’s home and his mother’s home.
The prosecution said that the wire found on the back of paintings from Bradford’s mother was alike to that used to make the garrote.
Defense attorney Robert Shapiro told the trial judge that Bradford would not have been sentenced three decades beforehand if the case had been brought then and asked whether the wire in those portraits even existed in 1979.
Shapiro told jurymen that they had not seen “one real bit of evidence,” asserting that some evidence was not there while other was destroyed.
Lewin countered that the presumptive evidence was “overwhelming,” calling the defendant “a murderous beast” who “needs to be held responsible.”
Jurors considered less than three days before delivering their verdict against Bradford, who was a student at Cal State Long Beach at the moment of the crime.
The appeals panel ruled that failing to collect certain evidence not independently violate a defendant’s constitutional rights and inability to retain evidence only do so if proof was destroyed in bad faith.
As for observers who could no longer be called decades after the crime happened, the panel found no proof that it would have changed the result at trial.
“Defendant has provided no evidence indicating that the other unavailable witnesses would have given any evidence absolving him or challenging the prosecution’s case,” the court decreed.
Sustained prosecutorial delays were probable cause for the 2007 warrants, according to the juror’s analysis.
As for the other possible suspects, the appeals court said there was not enough evidence to connect either of the two men to the crime and “mere motive or opportunity to commit the crime” was not enough to warrant their mention at trial.
One of the men just happened to be in the same neighborhood, and there was no connection to Knight whatsoever.
The other man mentioned by Bradford had dated Knight. “He was ‘distraught’ and fully participated with police by permitting them to search his home and his car. No proof linking him to the murder was recovered,” according to the panel.