Damou Akbar Bradley was convicted of attempted murder and second degree assault Wednesday for stabbing and attempting to strangle his girlfriend in 2017.
The three-day trial was among the first held in Scott County since the COVID outbreak in March. Due to pandemic restrictions, it was a bench trial with Circuit Judge Jeremy Maddox presiding and rendering the verdict. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 4, 2021. Bradley faces 10-to-20 years on the attempted murder conviction and 5-to-10 years on the assault conviction.
The trial concluded Wednesday with a heavy law enforcement presence.
“When I came to, I was in a bathtub full of my blood,” Danielle Bertram testified about the attack on May 13, 2017 in which she was stabbed in the front and back of the neck and side and choked until she passed out. “There was so much of it. I asked, ‘what have you done. What did you do to me?’”
Bradley’s defense attorney, Doug Crickmer, said the police rushed to judgement and Bertram stabbed herself and she asked Bradley to take the blame. Bertram denied stabbing herself on the stand. On multiple occasions, including to 911 dispatch, to the police and to the victim, herself, Bradley said he was told by god to stab Bertram.
The case was prosecuted by Commonwealth Attorney Sharon Muse and Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Kate Bennett.
The incident began when Bradley confronted Nate, a friend of Bertram, who was planning to share her apartment, threatening him with a knife, Bertram said. The friend called Bertram and warned her to be careful.
“I was confused,” she said. “I knew Nate would not lie, but this did not sound like Damou.”
When she arrived at her apartment after work, Damou was there.
“I did not see Damou as a potential threat,” Bertram said. “I was really confused, but not for my life.”
Bertram asked about the incident with Nate and Damou said Nate misunderstood and that he had the knife out to help Nate put together some furniture. The two had a “calm” conversation, so she decided to take a shower which was a normal routine after work. When she got into the shower Bertram said she realized her soap and shampoo was gone, so she called to Damou who was in another room to bring the toiletries into the bathroom and leave it within reach.
He did and then asked if he could join her in the shower. Bertram said she was surprised at the request because they had never taken a shower together, even when they were intimate, although they had mutually decided to just be friends a few months earlier. While in the shower he began kissing her aggressively and asked her to perform oral sex, she said.
At some point, Bradley grabbed her hair and began choking her until she passed out, she said.
“I tried pushing him away,” she said. “Then he used his hands with incredible force to choke me. I had difficulty breathing. I felt a jab on my side.”
When she regained consciousness Bertram said she was lying in the tub filled with her blood. Shortly, Bradley returned and found her still alive.
“When I came to I was disoriented,” she said. “I couldn’t breathe. I realized my black shorts were wrapped around my neck. I was in so much pain. I couldn’t breathe.”
The bathroom lights were out, but soon Bradley returned, turned the lights back on and found Bertram alive when he opened the shower curtain.”
“‘Oh my god,’ he said. ‘You’re still alive. I should have killed you.’,” Bertram testified. “I saw the knife and I became afraid for my life. Please don’t kill me,’ I said. He said, ’this doesn’t have anything to do with you. God told me to kill you. I watched you die. You came back. You should be really proud of that.’”
Eventually, Bradley decided to move Bertram to a second bathroom in order to clean the first bathroom. At some point Bertram talked Bradley into calling 911, which he did, telling the dispatcher on multiple occasions he had stabbed his girlfriend.
Testimony was given that Bradley had brought a backpack to Bertram’s apartment with bleach, hydrogen peroxide, trash bags and a sock filled with coins and tied off. The knife contained the DNA of both Bertram and Bradley, but the defense attorney argued since the knife belonged to Bradley it would naturally have his DNA.
Following the verdict Wednesday, Bradley’s father testified he would support his son when he got out of prison and apologized to Bertram and her family.
“The testimony heard in this court, the horrifying stuff,” he said. “That is not my son.”
Muse praised the Georgetown Police Department for its investigation and support during the trial. Officer Joe Valdez was the lead investigator.
Mike Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.