Douglas Bradford entered his ex-girlfriend’s studio in the summer of 1979 wielding a weapon he had fashioned at home: a garrote made of wooden mop handles connected by a thick wire, a prosecutor said Monday.
He wrapped the wire around her neck and pulled the handles, slicing through her throat, but that didn't kill her, the prosecutor said, so Bradford grabbed a nearby knife and stabbed her thigh, cutting her femoral artery.
Defendant Douglas Gordon Bradford watches as the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney John Lewin, makes his opening remarks at the Criminal Courts Building on Monday. (Jabin Botsford / Los Angeles Times)
Bradford continued to mutilate Lynne Knight’s body after she died, Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. John Lewin told jurors during opening statements of the murder trial against Bradford, nearly 35 years after Knight's body was found in her Torrance home.
Lewin said Bradford had been bitter that Knight had broken up with him after a relationship that lasted a few months. He stalked Knight, a 27-year-old nurse, in the days before her death, getting angrier as she welcomed different men into her home, the prosecutor said.
“It was not a surprise that Lynne was murdered that night,” Lewin told jurors. “The evidence is going to demonstrate he was watching her.”
The case remained active over the decades and Bradford was the only suspect from the start. But it wasn’t until 2009 that Torrance police detectives worked with prosecutors to charge Bradford, now 62.
Bradford told detectives investigating the killing that he had moved on after the relationship ended, saying he “tied the ribbon on the package and that was it,” according to Lewin. The prosecutor told jurors that was an ominous bit of wording that proved he knew about the crime.
Bradford, Lewin said, will "supply some of the most damning evidence in this case."
Bradford said he was out sailing alone in Long Beach late on the night of Aug. 29, 1979, just before Knight’s slaying, according to recordings of interviews with police played in court Monday.
Lewin poked at Bradford’s alibi, saying he misstated details about the wind conditions that night and, as an experienced sailor, would not have taken to the sea in dark conditions.
As for the garrote, which was found by Knight’s body, Lewin said the wire was consistent with wiring used to hang art frames at Bradford’s mother’s home. Bradford was living with his mother and studying at Cal State Long Beach while he was dating Knight.
Lewin also pointed to a necklace that Bradford had given to Knight, which she continued to wear after the breakup. The necklace was not found on Knight’s body, which Lewin said was evidence to implicate Bradford.
Bradford, an engineer from Costa Mesa, has remained free after posting bail of more than $1 million in 2009.
He is being represented by Robert Shapiro, who helped defend O.J. Simpson in the same courtroom Bradford is being tried. Shapiro’s opening statement is expected Tuesday.