McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Police/Courts

March 28, 2013

Murder charge dropped to manslaughter for McAlester man

McALESTER — A charge of first degree murder was recently reduced to first degree manslaughter for a McAlester man recently.

Leon Lee Hollis, 37, was originally charged with aggravated assault and battery in July 2012 for his alleged assault on Danny Bradford, a man who spent days in the hospital on life support after the alleged assault and later died.

On Aug. 24, the District 18 District Attorney’s Office filed an amended information sheet in Hollis’s case, charging him with first degree murder.

Then, on March 21, the charge was amended a third time to first degree manslaughter.

According to court records, Bradford was visiting the home of Hollis and Aaron Stewart on the evening of July 4, 2012. Hollis allegedly told John Jones, an agent for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, that he confronted Bradford regarding “Bradford’s poor treatment of his girlfriend,” an affidavit states.

Hollis allegedly punched Bradford in the face and kicked him in the head, according to court records. Hollis’s roommate, Stewart, was a witness to the alleged assault, according to the affidavit.

Stewart told authorities that “on the night of July 4, 2012, (he) saw Hollis beat up Bradford,” the affidavit alleges. “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. When Stewart left, Bradford was lying in the floor, and he was making a ‘snoring’ or a ‘gurgling’ sound. When Stewart returned the next morning, he helped Hollis put Bradford into Hollis’s pickup, so Hollis could take Bradford for medical attention.”

According to the affidavit, Hollis took Bradford to a hospital in Henryetta on July 5. Bradford was then life-flighted to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, where he was placed on life-support, according to the affidavit. Then, on July 12, 2012, Bradford died.

According to Dr. Joshua Lantern, with the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office, Bradford died from blunt force trauma to the head and his manner of death is listed as homicide, the affidavit states.

McAlester Police Det. Capt. Gary Wansick said the McAlester police were contacted by the Henryetta Police Department shortly after Bradford was dropped off at the Henryetta hospital. “As we looked into the matter, we learned that OSBI had investigators en route to initiate an investigation,” Wansick said. “ We secured the house (where the alleged assault took place), called OSBI and maintained the security of the house until OSBI crime scene investigators took over.”

Hollis has been in custody at the Pittsburg County jail since July 5, 2012. He is being held in lieu of a $1 million bond and was unavailable for comment at presstime.

Hollis’s attorney, Breckon Wagner, of McAlester, said, “According to Judge (Tim) Mills the state could not meet the burden of probable cause on premeditation.”

Wagner also said the judge sustained an objection by the defense to using an audio recording of a police interview with Hollis. The recording can no longer be used as evidence in the case against Hollis, Wagner said.

Hollis is due back in court April 17 at 10 a.m.

Contact Rachel Petersen at rpetersen@mcalesternews.com.

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