By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette —
LOCKPORT -- Janice Bradberry held on to her son's arm and stared straight ahead.
Just two hours after they began deliberations, a Niagara County Court jury was back in the courtroom of Judge Matthew J. Murphy III on Friday. The panel of nine men and three women had reached a verdict in the murder trial of Matthew "Bones" Davis.
Davis had been accused of killing Janice's son, Antoine, in a botched robbery in August 2011. Now, he was convicted of those crimes.
"The tears just started flowing," she said. "And all I could say was, 'Thank you Jesus.'"
In rapid fashion the jurors had found Davis guilty of two counts of second-degree murder and single counts of first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary in the slaying of Bradberry in the victim's Rainbow Boulevard apartment.
Mrs. Bradberry said she had always believed that she would see what she called "justice" for her son.
"I believe in the power of prayer," she said. "And I told (First Assistant District Attorney Doreen Hoffmann and Assistant District Attorney Brian Seaman) I had faith in them and there was a higher power that was going to direct this."
Davis had disappeared from the Falls in the days after Bradberry's slaying. He was finally tracked down by federal marshals in a West Virginia trailer park, living under an assumed name, in May.
Police also arrested and charged Davis' girlfriend, Teara Fatico, and another woman, Chasity Wilson, in the weeks after the slaying. They both pleaded guilty, in a deal with prosecutors, to a charge of attempted first-degree burglary in the case and are each serving a 13-year state prison terms.
Fatico testified against Davis at his trial. She told the jury that Davis had hatched the idea to rob Bradberry.
Investigators said Bradberry died after a violent struggle with Davis. An autopsy determined that Bradberry had suffered from hypertensive disorder and probably suffered a fatal heart attack as a result of the stress of the struggle.
His defense claimed that wasn't murder.
“It was his time, due to his disease, it was his time,” defense attorney Philip Dabney said. “Based upon his disease it was his time. It was unfortunate and a tragedy, but it was his time.”
For Janice Bradberry, that was one of the worst moments of the trial.
"I know Mr. Dabney was just doing his job, but what hurt the most was, 'It was his time to go.' That hurt," she said.
Mrs. Bradberry said she also struggled as she watched, for the first time on Thursday, video of her son, captured by his apartment building's security cameras, on the night he was killed.
"It was tough," she said softly. "That was the last time my child was alive and I was able to see him going up and down stairs and that really hit home with me."
But the video also allowed prosecutors to show the jury images of Davis, Fatico and Wilson as the robbery attempt played out.
In his closing argument, Seaman matched the videos with phone records that showed Davis communicating with Fatico and Wilson at key moments during the crime.
Ultimately, Dabney told the jury that Davis, who did not take the stand to testify, simply was not at Bradberry’s apartment on the night and early morning of the murder.
“It’s my client’s position that he was not there,” Dabney said. “I submit to you, he was not there.”
The jury didn't buy that claim.
"We are absolutely satisfied and pleased with this verdict," said Hoffmann.
Davis now faces a potential prison term of 25 years to life when he is sentenced on March 7.
The trial took a steep toll on the Bradberry family. Anotine's father, Robert, passed away in early November, before the trial started.
Mrs. Bradberry, who has batted cancer, became ill earlier in the week and missed several days of testimony. After the verdict was announced, Janice Bradberry said her first stop would be at the cemetery where her son and husband have been laid to rest.
"I'm on my way to the cemetery to tell my husband and my son (about the verdict)," she said. "That's why I'm still here (on earth). Through all my sickness, losing my son and losing my husband, I told them I would see this through. Now we can start to heal somewhat, but it's not going to be an overnight process."