Sunday, May 19, 2024
63.8 F
Beaver
Sunday, May 19, 2024
63.8 F
Beaver

State Trooper Lauded As His Shooter Is Sentenced Up To 73 Years In Prison

It took more than a year for state police trooper Jonnie Schooley to return to active duty after a bullet fired by a Beaver County man tore through his leg during a 2022 altercation at an Aliquippa convenience store.

Wednesday, Schooley sat stoically as the shooter, Damian Bradford, was sentenced in Beaver County Court to between 36 1/2 and 73 years on charges including attempted homicide and aggravated assault.

“I’m especially proud of Schooley, for his dedication to the job, all the hard work to get back to full duty,” said Sgt. Gesuele Burello, station commander of the Brighton Township barracks where Schooley is assigned.

Bradford had spent about 15 years in federal prison after killing a Mercer County doctor, and had been free from custody for just 606 days before the July 28, 2022, shooting of trooper Jonnie Schooley.

State police said that Schooley and trooper Shawn Palmer were investigating a disturbance at a Franklin Avenue, Aliquippa, convenience store.

Troopers wrote in a criminal complaint that Bradford, 42, threatened several people with a handgun, and when trooper Schooley approached him, a struggle ensued and Bradford shot Schooley.

In earlier comments to BeaverCountian.com, Bradford expressed remorse for the shooting.

Bradford wrote, “I apologize for everything that happened. I had no ill intent, nor was it something planned.”

Defense attorney Bill Difenderfer told BeaverCountian.com in September that when troopers interviewed Bradford immediately after the shooting, “He didn’t even know that the gun went off.”

He added that the gun fired during the struggle with troopers. “This was not an intentional discharge.”

Burrello said that comments by sentencing Judge Mitchell Shaheen were “spot-on,” including that the jury, in weighing video and other evidence from the night of the shooting, felt that Damian Bradford “was intent on killing someone.”

“I’m pleased with how the judge handled it,” Burrello said. He also praised the efforts of prosecuting attorney Chad Parks and the Beaver County District Attorney’s Office, Palmer and fellow state police.

Wednesday’s sentencing means it’s the second time Bradford faces a long-term incarceration.

On May 13, 2005, Gulam Moonda, of Hermitage, Mercer County, was shot to death while sitting in his car alongside the Ohio Turnpike, his wife, Donna, and mother-in-law, Dorothy Smouse, also passengers, but uninjured.

Local, state, and federal prosecutors quickly focused on Bradford, formerly of Center Township. They said that he and Donna Moonda had begun an affair while both were undergoing treatment for drug addiction at Gateway Rehabilitation, and crafted a plot to kill Dr. Moonda and split the wealthy doctor’s estate, estimated at between $3 million and $6 million.

Both Bradford and Donna Moonda were charged in the slaying. Bradford testified in federal court that the couple initially had agreed to act as witnesses for each other.

But Donna Moonda invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to take the witness stand on Bradford’s behalf. After that betrayal, Bradford pleaded guilty to the shooting. In exchange for his plea, he would receive a 17-and-a-half-year federal sentence. He also agreed to testify against Moonda in 2007.

Bradford admitted on the witness stand that he shot Dr. Moonda in the head and stole his wallet in an effort to make it look like a roadside robbery. He also said that once he collected his part of the inheritance money, he likely would have left Donna Moonda.

Shortly after Bradford’s testimony against his one-time lover, a federal jury convicted Moonda in her husband’s slaying, and sentenced her to life in prison.

It was not clear how Wednesday’s sentencing could affect Bradford’s federal supervision. When he was released from federal prison in December, 2020, he remained on five years’ supervised release.

Shortly after the Aliquippa shooting, the U.S. Probation Office filed a detainer to assure that Bradford would not be released from custody while awaiting the resolution of the Aliquippa shooting charges.

Bradford never left state custody while awaiting trial, unable to post the $800,000 bail set by a Beaver County district judge.

See Also:Trial For Man Accused Of Shooting Trooper In Aliquippa

Bill Vidonic
Bill Vidonic
Bill Vidonic is a veteran cops & courts reporter whose award-winning journalism has been featured in major publications throughout the region.

Latest News

Doh! County President Judge Plays Nepotism Hot Potato

Beaver County's judiciary is continuing to pay the price for seemingly poor decision making by its president judge. Now...