Appeals court orders new trial in South Bend boy’s slaying

December 29, 2020 GMT

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled a South Bend man should receive a new trial on a murder charge for allegedly providing the handgun another man used to fire a shot that killed a 2-year-old boy playing outside blocks away from a gang fight.

The appeals panel ruled 2-1 last week that Tyre Bradbury, 22, should have his conviction thrown out because his attorneys were ineffective.

Bradbury is serving a 60-year sentence after being convicted as an accomplice in the April 2014 death of 2-year-old John Swoveland Jr. The accused shooter, Robert Griffin, also was convicted of murder.

The appeals court majority found Bradbury’s trial lawyers, Charles and Brendan Lahey, were deficient because they made a deal with prosecutors to tell the jury Griffin had been convicted of murder in the child’s death, the South Bend Tribune reported.

Because jurors heard of Griffin’s conviction, prosecutors did not need to prove Griffin intended to kill the rival. That hurt Bradbury, the appeals court majority ruled, because intent helped determine whether he also could be convicted of murder.

“We’re very happy for Mr. Bradbury,” Brendan Lahey said.

The Indiana attorney general’s office is likely to contest the appellate decision, chief appeals counsel Steve Creason said.