LANCASTER – A Lancaster man accused of fatally strangling his elderly mother allegedly told homicide detectives that his mother was a witch and that he was a representative of Jesus Christ, according to court testimony.
The testimony came Thursday at a preliminary court hearing for Shelton Bradley. Bradley, 48, is charged with murder in connection with the death of his mother, 73-year-old Rosie Manuel.
Bradley was arrested on Dec. 20, 2013, a day after his mother was found naked and unresponsive on the kitchen floor of her Lancaster home in the 44000 block of Beech Avenue. [Read more here.]
Bradley confessed during a police interview, according to Sheriff’s homicide detective Ray Lugo.
“He [Bradley] said he choked his mother until she went limp and she fell to the bedroom floor, striking her head,” Lugo said, testifying at Bradley’s preliminary court hearing Thursday morning.
Bradley also told detectives he was a “representative of Jesus Christ”… “an elite angel of God”… and that his mother was a witch, Lugo testified.
“He said because he believed she was a witch and he had to burn her body, he took off her clothes,” Lugo said.
Bradley said he choked his mother, removed her clothes, and then dragged her body from the bedroom to the kitchen, where he attempted to stuff the body into the oven, but it would not fit, Lugo testified, citing his police interview with Bradley.
Rosie Manuel’s older son told investigators he discovered his mother’s naked body around 6 p.m., propped against the open oven door with the oven tipped slightly over on top of her, Lugo testified.
Lugo said he responded to the scene later that night, and there was a trail of blood that started in the bedroom, went through the living room, and ended on the kitchen floor next to the body.
As investigators were processing the scene, Bradley walked past the police tape and tried to enter the home, Lugo testified. Bradley had blood on his cheek and told detectives he had just come from playing basketball, Lugo said.
Bradley also spoke about “God’s spiritual army,” Lugo said.
“He asked me if I was a Christian and I said ‘yes,’” Lugo testified.
Bradley’s defense attorney questioned whether his client was displaying symptoms that required a 51/50 (involuntary psychiatric) hold; but Lugo said: “He seemed to be extremely honest as to what he was saying and what had occurred.”
Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Yulair Wang testified that he conducted Manuel’s autopsy, and that the 73-year-old had bruises under her chin consistent with strangulation, as well as lacerations to her forehead.
Bradley’s defense attorney said Manuel was morbidly obese and she had advanced heart disease. He questioned whether her age, weight and heart condition could have played a role in her death.
“It’s my opinion she died of strangulation,” Dr. Wang said.
At the conclusion of the preliminary court hearing, Bradley was ordered to stand trial on one count of murder and one count of elder or dependent adult abuse resulting in death. The charging document also includes six prior convictions for grand theft, unlawful driving or taking of a vehicle, robbery and three drug-related offenses between 1992 and 2009, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.
Bradley is due back in court July 3 for a second arraignment.
If convicted as charged, Bradley faces a maximum sentence of 31 years to life in state prison.
Previous related stories: