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Archive for Saturday, August 18, 2001

Teen acquitted of conspiracy

August 18, 2001

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— A Jackson County jury acquitted Richard Bradley Jr. on charges that he and two classmates planned a Columbine-style attack on Royal Valley High School.

"I'm just glad it's all over with," Bradley said. "I'm glad the truth got out."

Bradley, 18, had been charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated arson or, in the alternative, solicitation to commit aggravated arson, two counts of criminal use of explosives, and one count each of aggravated intimidation of a witness and criminal threat. He was acquitted on all counts.

The former Royal Valley senior was arrested along with fellow students Jason Moss and James Lopez on Feb. 3 in connection with a plot involving homemade bombs and a semi-automatic assault rifle. Authorities searched the three boys' homes and seized weapons, long black coats, hand-drawn plans of the school, and instructions and materials that could be used to create crude bombs.

On Friday, Bradley's family and friends awaited the jury's verdict after more than 12 hours in court. Many of his supporters wore buttons declaring him "The real victim of RVHS."

As District Judge Tracy Klinginsmith dismissed the jury at about 9:15 p.m., about 20 people in the courtroom erupted in applause, then surrounded Bradley, offering hugs and congratulations.

Bradley's family refused to comment on the jury's verdict.

Athena Andaya, an assistant attorney general who prosecuted the case, limited her remarks to thanking the jurors.

The case went to the jury at about 6:30 p.m. after four days of testimony from more than three dozen witnesses.

Defense attorney Richard Lake summed up his defense by listing each witness, recalling their testimony. For many he simply stated that their testimony concerned Moss and Lopez and not his client.

Lopez, 17, was convicted in April on one count of criminal use of explosives and one count of criminal threat as part of a plea agreement to testify against his co-defendants.

Moss, also 17, is awaiting trial on Aug. 27 on charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated arson or, in the alternative, solicitation to commit aggravated arson, two counts of criminal use of explosives and one count each of aggravated intimidation of a witness and criminal threat.

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