GREENVILLE – A bench trial for a Union City, Indiana, man was set to resume on Monday morning in Darke County Common Pleas Court, but instead a plea agreement was negotiated, and he appeared before the judge to face sentencing.
Chad Eric Bradburn, 51, of Union City, Indiana, entered guilty pleas on two amended counts of vehicular homicide, first-degree misdemeanors, and one count of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony. He was sentenced by Judge Jonathan P. Hein to 12 months in prison, fined a total of $4,000 and had his license suspended for one year. Because prison time is included in the sentence, he also is subject to up to three years of post-release control.
The sentence aligned largely with the joint recommendation submitted by the prosecution and defense teams. The prosecution and defense had jointly recommended a six-month period of house arrest, which the judge did not impose. Hein imposed a fine exceeding the attorneys’ joint recommendation.
Bradburn had been indicted on two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and tampering with evidence, all felonies of the third degree, in connection with the deaths of Richard Stephenson and Linda Shafer in February 2015. One count of first-degree misdemeanor driving under the influence, one count of fourth-degree felony driving under the influence, and a minor misdemeanor count of excessive speed were all dismissed as part of the plea negotiation.
Bradburn originally had opted for a bench trial before the judge rather than a jury trial. The bench trial commenced in December but was put on hold to allow for a prosecution witness who was unable to testify at the time.
According to testimony, Stephenson had been driving at night and struck a tree. His vehicle overturned and came to a rest in the roadway. A few vehicles had stopped near the scene, and some were rendering assistance to Stephenson, who was still in his vehicle, when Bradburn came around a curve and struck the overturned vehicle. Stephenson was killed in the second collision, as was Shafer, who had been trying to help Stephenson out of his car.
The tampering with evidence charge stemmed from Bradburn’s reported attempt to conceal beer bottles that had been in his car at the time of the crash.
Bradburn was represented by Springfield attorneys William West and Richard Mayhall. The state’s case was presented by David Green, assistant prosecutor for Darke County.