Patrick Bradford, a decorated Evansville police officer, was found guilty of the murder of Tamara Lohr. The crime happened in 1992. He was convicted the following year.
Eyewitness News’ Brad Byrd talks with U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Indiana, Richard Young and former Vanderburgh County Prosecutor, Stan Levco, about Bradford’s trial.
Brad Byrd: Welcome to In Depth. It was a story that had so many dynamics. A story that could conceivably make a Hollywood script. But it was none of this. It was a criminal case here in Evansville that transfixed us. It was a tragedy that touched families, friends and colleagues of the victim and of the accused.
It was the Patrick Bradford-Tamara Lohr murder case. Lohr was stabbed to death and her body set on fire in her eastside home in August 1992.
Bradford was convicted of murder and arson in the summer of 1993.
Joining me tonight is U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Indiana Richard Young. He was the circuit judge who presided over the Bradford trial. And former Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Stan Levco, who was the lead prosecutor at the trial.
And Judge Young and former Prosecutor Levco thank you very much for being here tonight. I’m looking at more than 90 years of experience in the courtroom and thank you so much for being here. Let’s start with you Judge Young, the circuit court judge for eight years. How did this particular trial with all of the media build up, making the nightly news every night, the papers every day, what kind of impact did that have on you in preparing for this trial?
Richard Young: Well, at the beginning, I’ll say from the defense side, Attorney Noffsinger and his staff, and Stan Levco on the prosecution side, were so well prepared. Theywere both experienced trial lawyers. It was helpful to me in conducting the trial because they knew what they were doing, they knew what the court would allow into evidence, what the court would not allow into evidence, and so once we picked the jury, and the jury selection was difficult because of the pre-trial publicity we had. Once we picked a jury and the trial began, it became just like any other trial, any other murder trial – we tried several every year in Vanderburgh Circuit Court. Once we got the jury selected and the trial was underway, it became a very normal trial.
Brad Byrd: And Mr. Levco, Patrick Bradford was an Evansville Police officer, and investigators say he was in uniform the night and the morning these crimes were committed. There was so much evidence in this case to go over and there was so much doubt. The EPD was in a very tough spot, investigating one of their own. How big of a challenge was that for you as a prosecutor?
Stan Levco: It was a big challenge. There was a lot of doubt at the beginning but not by the time we took it to trial – I don’t think, but it was a pretty difficult case to prepare though.
Brad Byrd: Patrick Bradford was convicted by a jury of his peers in the summer of 1993. Go over the sentencing process for me, he was sentenced to 80 years and why didn’t the death penalty enter this equation at the time?
Richard Young: Well, Stan would be a better person to talk about seeking the death penalty or not. In this case, Indiana statutes provided for a sentencing range for individuals convicted of murder and arson. And I had a very thorough pre-sentence investigation report prepared for Mr. Bradford that told me about his background and also consider the facts – the nature and circumstances of the offense – history and characteristics of Mr. Bradford. And then I tried to pick the appropriate sentencing. I felt that 80 years was the appropriate sentence for the murder and the arson.
Brad Byrd: And Mr. Levco, Mr. Patrick Bradford continues to insist that he was wrongfully accused – that he was wrongfully convicted in this case and there are people who see it that same way – people close to him, people who did not know him – how was he in the courtroom and how do you respond to that type of feeling among people right here in our community?
Stan Levco: Well, 12 impartial jurors who heard from both sides believed he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as to why. He can protest his innocence all he wants, but the fact is he’s guilty.
Brad Byrd: No cameras in the courtroom and basically as we know the courtrooms in the courts building, they’re not palatial palaces, there are not that many seats, citizens have a right to attend a public hearing – a trial like this – but Indiana still does not have cameras in the courtroom. And from a journalistic standpoint we had to rely on those of us who were not in that courtroom – the observations of other people and one of those observations was that Patrick Bradford was very cocky and very arrogant. But could that be misperceived because we couldn’t see how he was behaving in the courtroom. Now, how do you respond to that, Judge Young.
Judge Young: Well, that’s a situation that occurs in every sensational trial, no matter whether it’s Vanderburgh county, whether it’s in Marion County, or up north in Porter County. Court rooms are limited in their seating and if you want to come in a view the trial, you have to get there early. It’s not uncommon that court rooms are full. Cameras in the court room have been experimented with over the years. Our supreme court in Indiana has decided it’s not something they really want to do at this time. We have a similar situation in the federal courts as well.
Brad: And, Mr. Levco, I’m going to read this statement now. I contacted Terry Noffsinger who was Mr. Bradford’s defense attorney to get some type of feeling from him on where we stand now. He now practices law in Indianapolis. He said, “I was shocked by the verdict, and it still resonates with me. I have heard nothing that would have me walk back on that.” He and the late Larry Grimes, who was his associate defense attorney, still beleive that Patrick Bradford was innocent. What do you say to that?
Levco: They’re both excellent attorneys. I understand they would feel that way, but the evidence was overwhelming. Any objective person would determine he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Going in, I could…I’m not surprized he thought he’d be found not guilty going in, but after you hear all the evidence and everybody was subject to cross examination from both sides. By the end of the trial, I was pretty confident the jury would find him guilty.
Brad: It’s ironic, I’ve often thought that summer of 1993, on the national level, a year later, the OJ Simpson case. Now, that did play out on TV. So, how was the environment in your court room?
Judge Young: Well, I think we all saw the circus atmosphere that was in the OJ trial. I think you saw some people playing to the cameras. In the Vanderburgh Circut Court during the Patrick Bradford trial, as I said earlier, once we picked a jury, everyone was acting very professionally, performing their duties.
Brad: Many people touched by this tragedy. Let us not forget the victim, Tammy Lohr who was 24 years old. Thanks for being with us tonight.
(This story was originally published on July 24, 2019)