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December 13, 2013

Jury deliberates in Manslaughter trial

McALESTER — Closing arguments were heard Thursday in the first-degree manslaughter trial of Leon Lee Hollis.

The closing agruments were heard at the end of a three-day manslaughter trial heard Thursday in the Pittsburg County District Courtroom of Associate District Judge James Bland in connection with the death of Danny Bradford, of McAlester.

Hollis, 38, was originally charged with aggravated assault and battery in July 2012 in connection with the death of  Danny Bradford, a McAlester man who spent days in the hospital on life support after he was assaulted and later died.

Hollis was originally charged with assault and battery. Then in Aug. 2012 the charges were amended to first- degree murder and earlier this year the charge was amended a third time to first-degree manslaughter.

Meanwhile, during court proceedings, the jury heard from District 18 District Attorney Farley Ward who played a recorded interview between Hollis and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Agent John Jones.

During the interview, Hollis changed his story three times while explaining what happened to Bradford.

First Hollis stated that Bradford was an unknown man he found lying next to an “off” ramp. Then Hollis stated he found Bradford walking down West Street in McAlester. He said Bradford was just someone he had seen in passing and he didn’t know him. Then Hollis stated Bradford was a friend of his who came to Hollis’ home and after the two used “meth” together Bradford “freaked out” and attacked Hollis and his roommate, Arron Stewart.

In the recording Hollis said he punched Bradford in the face several times and kicked him in the head, after Bradford tried to attack him.

Meanwhile according to court records filed in the case, Stewart told authorities that “on the night of July 4, 2012, (he) saw Hollis beat up Bradford.”

“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, according to court records.

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.

According to the recording played Thursday during the trial, 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 and  later died seven days later, court records state.

Meanwhile Dr. Joshua Lantern, of the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office testified during the trial that Bradford died from blunt force trauma to the back of head and his manner of death is listed as homicide.

Lantern’s testimony was used by defense attorney Brecken Wagner who argued that no evidence was presented to prove that Hollis inflicted the injury to Bradford’s head that could have caused his death.

Ward told the jury that there was no proof that Hollis acted in self defense and “there was no evidence that I’ve heard that anyone inflicted the blows other than Hollis.”

The jury was still in deliberations at press-time today.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

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