Sanger man sentenced to 100 years in prison for the murder of his ex-girlfriend
Breanna Bradford was a shining light who loved to sing, dance and most of all smile, said her friends and family.
They gathered in a Fresno County courtroom Friday to pay tribute to Bradford, 22, and to try the man found guilty of murder: James Gonzales-Gay.
“Today shouldn’t be about the defendant, but Breanna,” said Assistant District Attorney Elana Smith. “She was young, bright, funny and hardworking. She doesn’t deserve to die. This was a brutal and heinous crime and the accused deserves no mercy from the court. “
Judge David Gottlieb had no qualms about sentencing 39-year-old Gonzales-Gay to 100 years of life imprisonment for the 2017 murder of Bradford, his ex-girlfriend.
“This was a cold and calculated murder and a jury made up of your colleagues found you guilty,” said Gottlieb. “Of course, this type of behavior wasn’t isolated. In the past you have chosen to be violent or to commit criminal activity. ”
It took less than three hours for the jury to find the Sanger man guilty of first degree murder.
During his trial, police testified that Gonzales-Gay murdered Bradford on September 15, 2017 after going to her Fresno apartment and requesting a lift to Sanger. After several random stops, including a Jack in the Box in Hanford, he shot her while they were sitting together in their silver Volkswagen GTI, according to detectives.
A few days later, the police found her body. She was in the passenger seat of the Volkswagen parked on Ventura Avenue and Ninth Street. Her body was loosely wrapped in a tablecloth Gonzales-Gay had gotten from his mother’s house. Her head was covered with a cardboard box.
Prosecutors argued that Gonzales-Gay was a convicted felon with a history of abusive, controlling and violent behavior.
The defense had argued that Gonzales-Gay killed Bradford for saying he had been sexually assaulted by someone the victim knew. But the jury did not accept this explanation.
Bradford’s older sister Tameka Lewis told the judge that she and her husband helped raise a once shy and insecure girl. But Bradford soon grew into a confident young woman as a kid, she said.
Bradford was a cheerleader during her four years at Hanford West High School. She was also a prom queen in her senior year. And she sang during her graduation.
Lewis wasn’t fully aware of the many lives Bradford had touched until the day of her funeral.
“The chapel only held 500 people and there was only standing room with people standing outside,” said Lewis. “Her life was so much bigger than her death.”
Bradford’s friend Amanda Cisneros was furious that Gonzales-Gay called him a coward, weak and fake. She said she was comforted by the many happy memories she had of her beloved friend, something Gonzales-Gay couldn’t take away.
“I hate you James, I hate your name, I hate your face, I hate that you took my boyfriend and I hate the way you tried to kill Breanna with a pathetic excuse,” she said. “Why did you really do it? Did you feel like a man holding a gun in her face?
Gonzales-Gay did not speak during the sentencing. His attorney Mark Siegel said he forgave what his client did, but he also said Gonzales-Gay was a shell of his former self.
“He is stronger than you think he is,” said Siegel. “He sat through stoically today and has stoically mastered the past four years.”