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Fatal shooting of drug dealer draws 25 years

Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza said Friday that Chester W. Bradley Jr. seems to be a nice guy -- and a stone cold killer.

"I don't know that I've ever had a more respectful and courteous defendant appear before me," Sperrazza said. "The evidence at trial was that you committed a murder in cold blood. That's the dichotomy."

Sperrazza then imposed the maximum 25-year prison sentence on Bradley for the March 18 shooting death of Lester Miller, 51, of 10th Street, Niagara Falls.

Miller was shot during a marijuana deal in the bathroom of a second-floor apartment in a crack house at 457 Fourth St., Niagara Falls. Miller was the seller, but prosecutors insisted Bradley intended to steal the marijuana from him.

On Nov. 22, a jury rejected a murder charge against Bradley, 22, of Ashland Avenue, Niagara Falls, instead convicting him of first-degree manslaughter and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

When Sperrazza announced the sentence, Bradley's mother began yelling at the judge, before being hustled from the courtroom by other family members.

Bradley, who shook his head slightly during the disturbance, declined to speak at the direction of defense attorney Angelo Musitano, who said he didn't want Bradley to say anything that might prejudice his appeal.

Musitano argued at trial that either of two other men who were in the apartment and testified against Bradley might have been the real killer.

Assistant District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann asked for the maximum sentence and was pleased that she got her wish. She said Bradley had been accused of shooting at other people, and there had been reports of attempts to intimidate witnesses. "It shows a propensity for violence," she said.

Miller's daughter, Yolanda Miller, spoke before sentencing but did not attack Bradley.

"I don't know him and I don't know what happened between him and my father, but there's two families here suffering because of this loss," she said. "I don't want my family to leave here being angry with this young man, and I don't want his family being angry with us."

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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