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Bradley sentenced following 2021 shooting case

T-L File Photo Tim Bradley, right, observes while his defense attorney, Aaron Brockler, argues for the use of self-defense criteria in his trial. Bradley was accused in a shooting incident in Martins Ferry on Memorial Day 2021.

MARTINS FERRY — Tim Bradley was sentenced Monday for a shooting that occurred May 31, 2021, at a Washington Street property in Martins Ferry.

He will serve seven years in the Belmont Correctional Institution. Bradley, 50, of 1020 N. Eighth St., Martins Ferry, was convicted of two counts of shooting into a habitation.

Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Chris Berhalter presided over the case.

During the incident, Bradley allegedly fired six shots at Zach Burch after Burch entered a Washington Street property owned by Bradley. Three of the shots reportedly struck Burch, while three struck a home across the street.

Bradley told the court he had hired Burch to repair his house. Based on security footage and Bradley’s statements, investigators believe the incident began when Bradley terminated the employment of Burch because he was dissatisfied with Burch’s work. Burch reportedly went to the property to collect his tools and to ask for money he said he was owed for the work.

According to testimony and court records, Burch took one set of tools from the house to his vehicle. While walking back to retrieve a second set of tools, it is alleged that he made threatening statements to Bradley, who then reportedly fired six bullets, three of which hit Bradley while others were found inside a house across the street.

Both men were carrying guns at the time.

Bradley’s defense attorney Aaron Brockler said he will try to appeal the decision in the future.

“The jury’s verdict was problematic because they said that he (Bradley) had the right to shoot and self-defense but then essentially punished him because the bullets that he shot in self-defense landed in an undesirable location,” he said.

During a previous hearing, Lauren Dudas, trauma surgeon at the WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia, said that fentanyl was found in Burch’s system, but she noted that fentanyl was administered by medical personnel for his chest-tube placement an hour prior to collection of a urine sample. She testified that Burch showed no indication of cocaine or methamphetamine use.

Brockler also said he believes racial and socio-economic factors played a role in the sentencing.

“If this shooting had happened out in the country, where houses are a mile apart, we wouldn’t be here today. Those bullets would have fallen idly into some field or, you know, farm crops, something like that. But in the inner city where lower-income racial minorities predominate, you have a much greater likelihood of hitting another house because they’re so close together,” he said.

Brockler said the jury should have taken location into consideration.

“The jury’s verdict sort of sides with the message that you have a greater right to self-defense if you live out in the country, and if you’re going to try to defend yourself in the city, you better be careful because if one of the bullets misses and hits a house or goes through the intruder and hits a house, you could be the one that ended up going to prison. I think that’s got to be something that’s taken a look at because certain races or socioeconomic groups shouldn’t have a greater right to defend themselves,” Brockler said.

“The issue is going to have to go up on appeal because that can’t be the law in the state of Ohio. If you have the right to shoot in self-defense, then you shouldn’t be held accountable for the fact that you were either a bad shot or too good of a shot,” he said.

Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan could not be reached to comment Monday.

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