Judge to consider separate trials for Brevard County deputy slaying suspects

Brandon Bradley and Andria Kerchner.
Brandon Bradley and Andria Kerchner.

A Brevard circuit judge will consider whether two people accused of killing Deputy Barbara Pill last year will go to trial together or in separate proceedings, Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports.

After hearing about an hour of argument from attorneys on behalf of the suspects Andria Kerchner and Brandon Bradley, Judge Morgan Reinman said she would decide by Sept. 13, when a status hearing is scheduled in the case. Kerchner appeared in court. Bradley did not.

Attorneys for the suspects argued that it would be too confusing to a jury to have a joint trial. They said jurors may not be able to distinguish if certain statements admitted as evidence could be considered in both cases, or just for Kerchner, or just for Bradley.

At issue are statements the suspects made during interviews with Brevard County sheriff's investigators after their arrests, including: Bradley claiming that Kerchner handed him the murder weapon and Kerchner first claiming she didn't know the shooter, then later identifying him as Bradley.

Michael Bross, Kerchner's attorney, said putting both suspects to trial at the same time would create a "circuslike atmosphere."

The state wants one trial. Assistant State Attorney Jim McMaster said he could provide the statements he planned to use during trial to the judge ahead of time for review to make sure there is no conflict.

Bradley, 23, is accused of pulling the trigger on Pill, 52, during a traffic stop in March 2012. Kerchner, 21, was a passenger in the vehicle and is also accused of murder. Bross said Kerchner's case may not be ready for trial for another year; however, a joint trial date has been tentatively set for late January. Officials expect the trial could span about five weeks.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Bradley. McMaster said in court today that a decision about pursuing the death penalty has not yet been made in Kerchner's case.