LOCKPORT – A Niagara County Court jury today convicted Matthew A. Davis of causing the death of Antoine M. Bradberry during a robbery in the victim’s apartment Aug. 22, 2011.
The jury of nine men and three women took less than two hours to find Davis, 37, guilty of two counts of “felony murder” for causing the death of Bradberry, 41, in a fight that occurred when Davis entered the apartment, allegedly looking for something to steal.
“We’re happy, ecstatic,” said Janice Bradberry, the victim’s mother, one of about 10 friends and relatives who hugged after leaving the courtroom.
Judge Matthew J. Murphy III, who presided over the two-week trial, scheduled sentencing for March 7. Davis could receive 25 years to life in prison.
Davis was not charged with intentionally killing Bradberry, whose autopsy attributed the cause of death to “hypertensive cardiovascular disease.” However, the manner of death was left undetermined, although Dr. Dianne Vertes, the chief medical examiner of Erie County, testified that Bradberry’s injuries played at least an indirect role.
Police testified that a large amount of blood was spattered around the apartment, Room 208 in the Jefferson Apartments on Rainbow Boulevard in Niagara Falls.
A post-mortem showed Bradberry’s injuries included a broken jaw and nose.
Prosecutors argued that the stress of the fight and the damage he sustained caused Bradberry’s death, while the defense argued that he was a sick man whose death was predictable.
“It is the unfortunate conclusion it was his time due to his illness,” argued Phillip Dabney Jr., co-defense counsel with Michael S. Deal.
Assistant District Attorney Brian D. Seaman, who prosecuted the case along with Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann, said Bradberry’s death on that particular day was no coincidence.
“Dr. Vertes told [the jury] that were it not for this violent, prolonged struggle, Antoine Bradberry would not have died that day,” Seaman said in his summation.
Prosecutors offered video clips from the Jefferson Apartments’ surveillance cameras, showing a man with a white T-shirt over his face heading toward Bradberry’s apartment.
The defense claimed that wasn’t Davis, but his co-defendant, Teara D. Fatico, said it was.
Fatico, 23, who pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree burglary and was sentenced to 13 years in prison, said she was having a sexual affair with the married Davis.
She testified that Davis was in her bedroom when she received a Facebook message on her smartphone from Bradberry, who asked her to visit him. He had been leaving admiring comments on her Facebook photos.
Fatico said Davis was upset, but directed Fatico to visit Bradberry and find out if he had anything to steal.
Fatico said she called her friend Chastity L. Wilson, a professional stripper, to come along.
Over a period of nearly two hours, the women visited Bradberry, going in and out of the building and allegedly consulting with Davis by text message.
Wilson, 23, refused to testify despite committing to do so when she accepted the same plea deal as Fatico.
Wilson has a motion pending to try to reduce her 13-year sentence.
Deal said, “I think there were significant issues in this trial, especially in regard to the medical evidence.”
Both sets of attorneys agreed that the video clips, in combination with the cellphone records of the three defendants, were decisive.
“I think the jury had to take the medical evidence into consideration,” Hoffmann said. “I don’t think his heart disease was a legal impediment to the charge.”
For Janice Bradberry, whose husband died Nov. 1, the outcome was never in doubt.
“I have faith in the DA’s office and in Brian and Doreen,” she said. “They told the story the way it happened. God gave us the victory.”