Waldroup gets 32 years
Judge Ross told Waldroup, “There is absolutely nothing to excuse or justify the actions you committed against these innocent women in ANY civilization.”
Judge Carroll Ross has sentenced Davis Bradley Waldroup, Jr. to 32 years for what he called, “the most senseless, brutal slaying I have ever seen in all my years of prosecuting, or here on the bench.” A jury convicted Waldroup in March of the October, 2006 aggravated kidnapping and voluntary manslaughter of Leslie Bradshaw and especially aggravated kidnapping and attempted murder of his then-wife Penny Waldroup.
During sentencing, Judge Ross told Waldroup, who was seated directly in front of the bench, “There is absolutely nothing to excuse or justify the actions you committed against these innocent women in ANY civilization.”
The maximum sentence for voluntary manslaughter is six years. “If I could sentence you for 20 years more, I would do that; I want you to know that,” Judge Ross said. Waldroup was given 12 years for the aggravated kidnapping of Bradshaw, 20 years for the especially aggravated kidnapping of Penny Waldroup and 12 years for the attempted 2nd degree murder of Penny Waldroup.
Judge Ross characterized Waldroup as a dangerous offender who was much larger than his victims and had little or no regard for human life. He said there was more than adequate evidence for the sentences of each victim to be served consecutively. “I cannot sit here and tell the citizens of Polk County that you would not get drunk and do the same thing again,” he told Waldroup.
The judge noted that Waldroup has the right to seek post-conviction relief, but he added "I will tell you about post convictions. All that does is set the verdict aside. The State probably would not mind retrying this and getting the death penalty. Think real carefully about that; you might not be as fortunate next time."
Penny Waldroup, along with the father, mother and sister of Leslie Bradshaw testified during the sentencing hearing. Penny said she still had nightmares about the event. “I can’t sleep most nights. I keep looking out the window to make sure he isn’t there,” she said.
Penny testified she lost 22 weeks of work and filed bankruptcy because she was so behind on her bills and had more than $100,000 in medical costs. She said she still had pain in both her arms and hands, and numbness in her left hand. Penny said she was physically and mentally unable to care for her children for a year and that they were still suffering. She said her eleven-year-old daughter is having outbursts in school, talked about suicide and always talks about killing bears.
Cara Scott, sister of Leslie Bradshaw, said she went from being a million dollar real estate seller working mostly nights and weekends to being a teacher’s aide making $15,000 a year because she initially took in all five of Bradshaw’s children. She said she currently keeps two of the children, twin girls, and that her mother has two girls and the father of the children has the boy.
“I just miss her so much. So many times I have wanted to call her,” Scott said as she broke into tears. “Her being gone is bad enough, but for her to die the way she did is more than I can stand sometimes.”
Scott said the children were doing better, but that their grades were slipping and the oldest boy had begun to pick on the littler children.
Sue Crisp, Bradshaw’s mother, testified, “They may be getting over it, but I can’t.” Crisp sobbed throughout her testimony and said she could not believe what had happened to the family.
“I think I am a bad mother,” Crisp said. “How could I not have known she was suffering and dying?” she asked.
Lester Crisp, Bradshaw’s father, testified there was great financial stress on the family and that they all tried to help one another. He said Bradshaw was always happy and laughed a lot and would do anything to help out both man and animal. He said the children wished they had been there to protect their mother.
Crisp attempted to give Judge Ross petitions he had circulated, asking for the maximum sentence, but the judge was unable to accept them. He explained at the end of the hearing that he understood Crisp’s suffering, but “there are things that are legally admissible and things that are not.”
Brad Waldroup testified on his own behalf. The Waldroups’ oldest daughter, Chelsea, also testified for Waldroup, as did co-worker Edward Burns and Jim Mabe with the prison ministry program. Waldroup said he took care of the children before the incident and wanted to have a relationship with them again. He said he had completed as many as 20 Bible correspondence courses during his time in jail, some of which gave him college credit, and that he ultimately wanted to get a Bachelor’s or Master’s in Theology and become a pastoral counselor.
Mabe said he ran an anger management class for the prison ministry and Waldroup never missed a session. He said Waldroup was respectful and never had a negative comment. He said he had learned a lot about forgiveness from Waldroup and that Waldroup told him he was guilty, but that he knew God had forgiven him.
Chelsea Waldroup said she was always a “daddy’s girl,” and described her relationship with her father as “unbreakable.” She said when she looked into her father’s eyes the night of the events, she saw anger, but now she sees sorrow.
In deciding a sentence for any offender, the judge must begin at the low end of the sentencing range and go up based on enhancement factors set forth by the law. State Prosecutor Drew Robinson argued that eight enhancing factors were applicable in this case, including that Waldroup treated the victims with exceptional cruelty, that there was more than one victim, that the injuries inflicted upon the victims were particularly great, that the crime was committed to gratify and excite him, that a firearm or deadly weapon was used, that there was no hesitation when the risk for death was high and that the victim Leslie Bradshaw was intentionally selected because Waldroup believed she was a wiccan and had had a lesbian affair with Penny.
Judge Ross said it was clearly shown that there was more than one victim and cited the Waldroups’ children, who were inside the home, as victims. “There has been no evidence that you would have ceased this despicable conduct if they had come out,” Judge Ross said to Waldroup.
Judge Ross said Waldroup showed incredible cruelty and that the brutal acts went far and beyond any element of the crimes. He agreed that the injuries inflicted were particularly great, citing the fact that the gun had been reloaded and that he had repeatedly used “four separate, well-chosen items on these innocent women who did absolutely nothing to deserve this attack.”
The judge said some amount of proof had been shown that the crimes were done to gratify a desire, but that he did not believe enough evidence was shown for it to be an enhancement factor. He also did not accept sexual orientation as an enhancement factor, saying he believed the law meant that enhancement to be used in specific hate crimes.
After the hearing, Robinson said that while he was not pleased with the jury’s verdict, he felt Judge Ross did what needed to be done. “He did the right thing under the circumstances,” Robinson said.
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