Burglar convicted of killing Oakland artist
A two-time convicted burglar was convicted of first-degree murder Monday for fatally stabbing an award-winning artist at the victim’s home in West Oakland three years ago.
Because of his prior criminal record, the conviction against 62-year-old Gregory Hall after only a day of jury deliberations means that he’ll face a sentence of 76 years to life in state prison when he’s sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer on Feb. 5 for killing Michael Thorn Bradley.
The artist’s badly-decomposed body was found at his home in the 3300 block of Market Street at about 9:20 a.m. on June 14, 2012.
Prosecutors allege that Hall, who wasn’t charged until February 2013, murdered Bradley, who was 67, with a knife sometime between June 11 and June 14 in 2012.
Prosecutor Adam Maldonado told jurors in his closing argument last Thursday that he doesn’t know Hall’s motive for killing Bradley but he believes the evidence is clear that Hall was the culprit because his DNA was found on a vest and sock that had Bradley’s blood on it and was found at the murder scene.
Hall had lived in a house next door to Bradley’s residence until he became homeless about nine months before the killing.
Hall testified last week that Bradley “was the coolest friend I ever had” and had lent him money and sometimes hired him to do landscaping and other odd jobs.
Hall said he discovered Bradley’s dead body in his house after he had spent a night sleeping in a cottage in the back of Bradley’s property but insisted that he didn’t kill him.
Hall’s attorney, Alex Harper, told jurors that he thinks Bradley was killed by two people who came to Bradley’s house the same night that Hall said he slept in the back cottage.
Harper said he believes the evidence indicates that there were two people who used two weapons to kill Bradley, who was stabbed multiple times in his back and his chest.
Harper also said it was reasonable for Hall to flee Bradley’s house and not call police when he found the artist’s body because he feared that the killers might still be in the house and was afraid that police might suspect him because of his past criminal record, which includes two felony convictions for first-degree residential burglary and one misdemeanor conviction for carrying a concealed knife at an Oakland BART station.
But Maldonado said he believes the evidence indicates that Hall snuck up behind Bradley while he was eating almonds in his kitchen and initially tried to strangle him with a broken hair dryer cord before eventually stabbing him to death.
The prosecutor said Hall and Bradley had been friends but it will never be known if Hall intended to commit a robbery or had argued with Bradley about something.
However, Maldonado told jurors that he wasn’t required to prove a motive in the case and he believes there’s abundant evidence that Hall killed the artist.
Two of Bradley’s sisters were present in court today when the jury’s verdict against Hall was announced. A third sister also attended part of Hall’s trial.
Hall bowed his head when the verdict was read and Harper patted him on his back to try to comfort him.
Bradley was born in New York City and obtained bachelor’s, master’s and master of fine arts degrees from the University of California at Berkeley between 1971 and 1974.
Bradley’s honors included winning the KQED Artist’s Award in 1974, the Purchase Prize at the San Francisco Arts Festival in 1974, and the Bookbuilder’s West Award in San Francisco in 1977 and 1984, according to the website.
He also won the William Andrews Clark Western Books Award in New York in 1984 and the Regional Design Annual Award in New York in 1984.