McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

February 6, 2014

Man sentenced to 30 years in prison for manslaughter

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — A McAlester man was sentenced last week to 30 years in prison for first-degree manslaughter.

On Jan. 28, Leon Lee Hollis was sentenced in connection with the July death of Danny Bradford.

In December, a Pittsburg County jury deliberated for several hours after a three-day trial before deciding on a guilty verdict against Hollis.

On Wednesday, Bradford’s sister, Jennifer Sherwood said she was grateful to the jury and to the judge for the sentence that Hollis received.

“Our hearts go out to (Hollis’) family, Sherwood said. “We were hoping for closure ... we were looking forward to closure with this hearing, but it just didnt’ happen.”

Sherwood said she expects the defense will appeal and she said her family will continue to fight for justice in case.

During a recorded  interview played for the jury, Hollis changed his story three times while speaking with John Jones, an agent from the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation.

 District 18 District Attorney Farley Ward said the recording almost wasn’t heard during the trial because of an earlier ruling. However, when the case was heard in district court, Associate District Judge James Bland allowed the recording to be played for the jury.

The case began after investigators were called to a Henryetta hospital where Hollis took a critically injured Bradford on the morning of July 5, according to a court affidavit filed in the case.

Bradford had to be life-flighted to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, where he was placed on life support, the affidavit states.

He died July 12, according to court testimony. 

During the recorded interview, Hollis changed his story three times while explaining how he came in contact with Bradford. First Hollis stated that Bradford was an unknown man he found lying next to an “off” ramp.

Then he told the investigator he found Bradford walking down West Street in McAlester, that Bradford was someone he had seen in passing and he didn’t know him.

Next, Hollis stated Bradford was a friend of his who came to Hollis’ home and after the two used “meth” together and Bradford “freaked out” and attacked Hollis and his roommate, Arron Stewart, according to the recording.

Hollis’ roommate said it was Hollis who attacked Bradford, according to court records filed in the case.

Stewart told authorities that “Stewart didn’t believe Hollis was ever going to stop hitting Bradford. Stewart was upset by what he had witnessed, so he left his home for a while,” court records state.

When Stewart left, Bradford was lying in the floor, and he was making a “snoring” or a “gurgling” sound, court records state.

“When Stewart returned the next morning, he helped Hollis put Bradford into Hollis’s pickup, so Hollis could take Bradford for medical attention,” court records state.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.