1.23.2010

TS - Autopsy set for Sunday in Bradshaw case

Autopsy set for Sunday in Bradshaw case

An autopsy on the remains believed to be those of a missing McKinleyville woman has been scheduled for Sunday, and her husband's manslaughter plea agreement hinges on the results, according to court records.

Monica Bradshaw, 53, was last seen in late summer 2008 by neighbors when she and her husband of 30 years, Robin Stuart Bradshaw, set off to bury a neighbor's dead horse. She was never reported missing.

Robin Bradshaw was arrested June 12 and charged with murder. But in December, Robin Bradshaw entered into a plea agreement, pleading to one count of voluntary manslaughter upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion; and one count of making a false insurance claim. As a condition of the plea, Robin Bradshaw agreed to disclose the location of his wife's body.

Earlier this month, a multi-agency team with personnel from the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office and the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office recovered a body in a forested area off of Fieldbrook Road in McKinleyville, less than three miles from the Bradshaws' home. Authorities believe the body is that of Monica Bradshaw.

Under the plea deal, Robin Bradshaw faces a 12-year prison sentence.

A court transcript from Dec. 17 indicates that Robin Bradshaw's plea is contingent on forensic evidence uncovered during the autopsy matching the story he gave to authorities.

”This is a conditional plea,” said Robin Bradshaw's attorney, Peter Martin, according to the transcript. “The condition is as follows: Mr. Bradshaw will lead police to Mrs. Bradshaw's remains. A forensic examination will be performed on the remains. If forensic evidence establishes that Mrs. Bradshaw did not die in the manner described ... by the defendant to polygraph examiner Jim Dawson, it will be considered a breach of the plea bargain, and the people may petition the court to vacate the plea agreement.”

According to the transcript, Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Allan Dollison then told the court the version of events that Robin Bradshaw told investigators during his polygraph examination.

”Your honor, on or about August 2008, the defendant was assaulted by Monica Bradshaw,” Dollison said. “He took a metal bar and struck her with it, causing her to suffer fatal injuries.”

”I would like to add,” Martin interjects, according to the transcript, “that with regards to (the manslaughter charge), the defendant, in the heat of the moment, after being struck with the metal bar by Mrs. Bradshaw, took the bar from her and struck her in the head with it two or three times about the head and shoulder area, and those blows resulted in her death.”
District Attorney Paul Gallegos said his office decided to enter into the agreement because it was important to Monica Bradshaw's family that her body be recovered, adding that his office discussed the deal with her family.

Humboldt County Coroner Dave Parris said Dr. Mark Super will be coming into town this weekend to perform an autopsy on the remains Sunday morning. But, Parris said he likely won't be able to issue a positive identification on the remains until sometime next week, when he has a forensic odontologist compare the remains' teeth with Monica Bradshaw's dental records.
Additionally, Parris said the remains were X-rayed Friday morning to look for any foreign objects, such as bullets or broken knives, but said he could not release the results.

Already, Parris said his office has devoted a tremendous number of man-hours to the case, estimating that teams of four spent about 40 hours separating the remains from the dirt that encased them, and then thoroughly cleaning the body.
”It was just meticulous work,” he said.

Because the body was found more than seven feet under ground, Parris said it was brought to his office encased in a thick layer of compacted dirt, which had to be painstakingly removed to prevent any damage to the body. Parris said the process started with trowels, and ended with water and toothbrushes.

”It's very, very time-consuming,” Parris said, adding that it was a joint process with the Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney's Office, a Humboldt State University anthropology team, members of the College of the Redwoods Police Academy, the Coroner's Office and members of the office's new volunteer program.
Chief Investigator Mike Hislop of the District Attorney's Office said a member of his office will be on hand to document Sunday's autopsy, but said things are largely on hold until his office receives the results of the autopsy and a positive identification.
Parris said the remains are remarkably well-preserved considering they reportedly spent 18 months in the ground, which he attributed to the body having been buried so deeply in clay-like soil. He said he doesn't anticipate Super having any trouble determining a cause of death.

”I can tell you we will come up with a determination,” Parris said. “The body was in very good condition.”

A message left for Martin was not returned by deadline.

According to a search warrant affidavit, an insurance adjuster for Capital Insurance Group in Ferndale first contacted the Sheriff's Office about Monica Bradshaw's disappearance.

The adjuster became suspicious when a person claiming to be Monica Bradshaw -- but sounding like her husband -- tried to submit a claim on her car, which had been stolen and recovered.

The affidavit said that Robin Bradshaw went to the tow yard with a woman, later identified as his 31-year-old girlfriend, who claimed to be Monica Bradshaw and allegedly signed the vehicle release form with her name.

A follow-up call from the adjuster was answered by a woman who reportedly said that Monica Bradshaw had died.

Neighbors told the Times-Standard that Robin Bradshaw offered conflicting accounts of his wife's disappearance.

When contacted by investigators, Robin Bradshaw was reportedly unable to produce a photograph of his wife, who he said did not like to be photographed.

Court documents also state that two people close to Robin Bradshaw told authorities that he made confessions to them about the crime, and that he said it was an act of self-defense.

One of the individuals told investigators that Robin Bradshaw said his wife attacked him with a crowbar. Robin Bradshaw reportedly told the person that he was able to wrestle the crowbar away from his wife, and then hit her over the head with it, causing her to fall into the bathtub. According to the affidavit, Robin Bradshaw reportedly said he then hit his wife twice more, once in the head and once in the shoulder.

The person further told investigators, according to the affidavit, that Robin Bradshaw confessed to first burying his wife in a shallow grave in the backyard of his home, only to later dig her body up and bury it on an undeveloped Danco subdivision off of Fieldbrook Road in McKinleyville.

Thadeus Greenson can be reached at 441-0509 or tgreenson@times-standard.com

Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Posted: 01/23/2010 01:30:21 AM PST
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PREVIOUSLY:
DA's office (Paul Gallegos) still undecided in Bradshaw case; Gallegos to talk to pathologist next week May 28, 2010
Bradshaw sentencing postponed, Gallegos "weighing" decision May 5, 2010
...Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos received Super's report last week, but has yet to decide how to proceed with the case. At Tuesday's hearing, Bradshaw's attorney, Peter Martin, said Gallegos had contacted him asking that the sentencing hearing be postponed.

”He wants more time, I believe, to review the medical report and to request supporting materials from the medical examiner,” Martin said....

”It's going to be something Paul's going to have to think about.” April 27, 2010
-- Bradshaw autopsy report with Humboldt County DA; indicates blunt force trauma as cause of death
Autopsy report coming in Bradshaw case; plea agreement hinges on results for McKinleyville man accused of wife's murder APRIL 24, 2010
Bradshaw positively identified; full autopsy report pending more test results FEBRUARY 01, 2010
Autopsy set for Sunday in Bradshaw case JANUARY 23, 2010
ANOTHER PLEA DEAL - Bradshaw agreed to give location of body in plea deal JANUARY 09, 2010
Robin Stuart Bradshaw entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors last month, agreeing to disclose the location of his wife's body and plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter, court records show.
Authorities believe they have found the body of missing McKinleyville woman JANUARY 08, 2010
The person further told investigators, according to the affidavit, that Robin Bradshaw confessed to first burying his wife in a shallow grave in the backyard of his home, only to later dig her body up and bury it on an undeveloped Danco subdivision off of Fieldbrook Road in McKinleyville.
Hearing for McKinleyville murder case continued NOVEMBER 05, 2009
Bradshaw Prelim continued to Nov. 5 SEPTEMBER 30, 2009
Prelim for Robin Stuart Bradshaw JULY 07, 2009
Bradshaw pleads not guilty to murdering wife June 16, 2009
Robin Stuart Bradshaw, arrested JUNE 16, 2009
Second search warrant issued in missing woman case - and a request to seal documents January 29, 2009
Monica Bradshaw: MISSING January 27, 2009