FORT WORTH - A former soldier found guilty of murder in the killing of a 35-year-old man in the parking lot of an Arlington Walgreens store in May 2016 has been sentenced to 75 years in prison.
Ricci Bradden, 24, was convicted of murdering Anthony "TJ" Antell.
On Thursday the judge gave him 75 years for the murder, plus 20 years for felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for shooting his then-wife. The sentences will run concurrently.
During sentencing, Crystal Antell shared the crippling effects of losing her husband and for her three children losing their father.
"Two years (later) and none of us are sleeping through the night," Antell said. "We can’t drive down certain streets, we can’t do anything because they look at me and ask me ‘is that the store where daddy was killed?”
Susan Polson recalled the horror of receiving a phone call from her daughter-in-law that her son was dead.
She stared at Bradden as she told him his wearing of a military uniform is "such a disgrace to all our American heroes."
"My son did a very selfless act, you did a very selfish act," Polson said.
Defense attorney Pete Schulte argued for a lower sentence on the murder charge, due to lack of any prior criminal history for Bradden. He later confirmed to WFAA that an appeal of the guility conviction has already been filed.
Bradden testified Wednesday, claiming self-defense in the shooting. Bradden had requested a bench trial, so a judge delivered the guilty verdict Wednesday.
The victim, Antell, had confronted Bradden outside a Walgreens in south Arlington after Bradden shot his former wife, who worked at the store.
Judge Louis Sturns made the ruling from the bench after closing arguments late Wednesday.
Bradden claimed that he shot Antell multiple times because he feared for his life after Antell stood in front of Bradden's vehicle as it traveled through the Walgreens parking lot.
"He pointed a gun at my head and when I got out of the truck, he looked away for a split second, I don't know why," Bradden said. "I did what I had to do. I'm sorry for what happened."
Defense attorney Pete Schulte said the facts of the case, that Bradden shot Antell, were not in question so the case was presented to a judge with a defense centered around whether Texas "castle doctrine" applied in the case.
Schulte argued that since Bradden was in his vehicle when a weapon was pointed at him, he had a legal right to defend himself with deadly force.
On cross examination, Tarrant County assistant prosecutor Page Simpson pointed multiple inconsistencies and contradictory statements Bradden made on the stand about his state of mind and motivations from May 2, 2016.
Bradden admitted to being under the influence of alcohol and Xanax in the hours before the shooting. His admission was supported by Facebook messages he engaged in with a female on May 2.
On the stand Wednesday, Bradden claimed he never wrote the messages and that he couldn't remember what happened before the shooting because he was intoxicated.
"But we're expected to believe you remember every detail about the shooting of Mr. Antell, but nothing leading up to it, Simpson questioned.
During closing arguments prosecutors argued Bradden had no legal defense of deadly force because he possessed a firearm while intoxicated and he killed Antell immediately following another crime.
Bradden entered a guilty plea for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for shooting his then wife Quinisha Johnson in the approximately one minute before he came face to face with Antell in the parking lot.
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