GREEN RIVER — A jury found Bradley Setzer not guilty of attempted murder following his trial in Sweetwater County District Court.
The jury returned with a verdict at about 4:35 p.m. on Tuesday. Not guilty verdicts were returned on three charges including attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, and attempted voluntary manslaughter. Setzer was found guilty of interference with a peace officer.
Setzer hugged his attorney after the verdict was announced. When Sweetwater County Attorney Dan Erramouspe was asked about Setzer’s bail for the resisting arrest conviction, Erramoupe replied that the time Setzer has already served would be sufficient to cover the penalty.
The trail started with jury selection on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Setzer was arrested on Aug. 25, 2019 after an incident at his home.
Following jury instructions from Judge Richard L. Lavery on Tuesday morning, Oct. 20, Erramouspe presented the closing arguments for the prosecution and said they focused on the evidence.
He said the Setzers had a toxic marriage filled with terrible ideas and actions. He pointed to testimony that Bradley Setzer had beaten his wife and multiple confrontations that took place the day of the shooting. He said Bradley Setzer could have let her go, as he said he wanted her to do, but stopped her repeatedly. Erramouspe said Bradley Setzer took his wife’s phone and pulled the keys from her running car and also chased her down the street.
The county attorney said when it came to their standoff when Bradley Setzer locked her out of their home, he noted Jessica Setzer’s biggest threat was that she wasn’t going to move.
“Her biggest threat is that she’s going to stay there, and that scares you?” he asked.
At a time when he was not supposed to use firearms as part of a court order, Bradley Setzer retrieved a 9 mm from an upstairs gun safe, put it up to the window of the front door, and fired it. Erramouspe said Jessica Setzer moved instinctively, keeping the bullet from hitting her, though she was still close enough to be injured by flying glass.
The prosecutor said the castle doctrine allows people to use reasonable force to defend their homes when an intruder is trying to gain entrance, but he said it doesn’t apply when someone is trying to get into their own home like Jessica Setzer.
He said when each juror reviews the evidence, “You’re going to know the defendant is guilty of attempting to kill Jessica Setzer in the first degree.”
Defense attorney Jerry Bosch said the justice system presumes innocence and the defense doesn’t have to present any evidence – the burden is on the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Bosch said the most important thing is intent – did Bradley Setzer, beyond a reasonable doubt, have the intent to kill his wife?
He cited conflicting testimony between different parties and sometimes between what Jessica Setzer said when interviewed immediately after the shooting and what she testified to in court.
Bosch said Bradley Setzer fired a warning shot to defend himself after displaying the firearm as a message did not dissuade his wife.
The defense attorney said when Bradley Setzer fired through the door, he knew where she was because she was kicking the door. He questioned if Bradley Setzer wanted to kill his wife, why did he miss when they were that close, or when they were one lock away, why didn’t he open the door before firing.
“Was he acting rationally? That’s for you to decide,” he told the jury.
He said they must determine if Bradley Setzer was acting rationally in that moment in time or if he was acting out of a heat of passion.
When talking about the allegation of resisting arrest, he said his client was confused by commands from officers that were sometimes contradictory.
Bosch also questioned the direction of the investigation. He said he wasn’t saying that the detectives and officers who testified are bad, but that once they decided who was guilty, that’s where they concentrated their attention.
“My point is once you’ve set a goal, that’s how you proceed,” Bosch said.
He also cited statements from Bradley Setzer’s friends, wrestling teammates and co-workers who testified to his character.
He stressed that the prosecution “must prove every element” in its argument for a murder conviction, and if it failed to do so, jurors must find Bradley Setzer not guilty.
“When you go through, as a jury, those facts, I believe that at the end of the day the state has not come close to proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Bosch said.
In his rebuttal, Erramouspe said the state doesn’t prosecute character. He said if they’re investigating a crime, and they talk to the neighbors who say the suspect is a real nice guy, they don’t drop the charges.
He said there are many examples of people hiding abusive or violent tendencies in public, so the character witnesses are not sufficient.
He also questioned the defense’s claim that Bradley Setzer could shoot safely through the door without fear of hitting someone.
“You can’t be kicking this door and out of the way of the shot,” he said.
The prosecuting attorney said any responsible gun owner knows that we don’t give a warning shot, but assuming one did, he questioned why didn’t Bradley Setzer shoot over his wife’s head. Even if the downward shot looked clear, a shooter couldn’t know if someone might move into the line of fire at the last second.
The prosecution and defense both noted that Bradley and Jessica Setzer did not call 911, but Erramouspe said that the plaintiff had both phones, which was probably the reason why she didn’t call 911.
He also contrasted the explanations of the couple. Erramouspe characterized Bradley Setzer as consistently claiming to be a victim of the system or a victim of police; while Jessica Setzer “owned her warts and all.” He said she accepted responsibility for her actions in causing the chaos, including taking methamphetamine that day.
“Guns don’t go off by themselves, and meth don’t cause people to flip out” and kill people, he said. Considering the current use of meth in Sweetwater County, Erramouspe said we’d have a pile of bodies lying around if that was true.
He said the defense’s argument was that just because Jessica Setzer was on meth, the case should be closed.
Erramouspe said it took a long time for Bradley Setzer to retrieve the gun, but when he did, it was with premeditation. He cited Jessica Setzer’s testimony that her husband blocked the view through the door with a hoodie until right before displaying the firearm.
“It’s easier to kill someone who doesn’t see you coming,” the prosecutor said, adding when you stalk an elk, you want to get to the point where it can’t see you.
In closing, Erramouspe said Bradley Setzer “pulled the trigger on something he was going to destroy, and that was his wife, Jessica Seltzer.”