Murder trial: Prosecution presents details of prior murder conviction

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Two law enforcement officials testified Friday in the murder trial of James Bradley.

Bradley, 54, of Wilmington, is charged with first-degree murder in the presumed death of his coworker, Shannon Rippy Van Newkirk, who was last seen alive April 5, 2014, at a bar downtown. Van Newkirk's body has never been found.

While searching for Van Newkirk on land in Pender County where Bradley worked, investigators found the body of another missing Wilmington woman, Elisha Tucker. Bradley is also charged with murder in her death, but a trial date has not been set in the case.

In 1988, Bradley was convicted in the killing of his 8-year-old stepdaughter in Fayetteville. He spent 25 years in prison before being released in early 2013.

Following a pretrial hearing last year, a judge ruled jurors in the Van Newkirk trial could hear evidence from the killings of Tucker and Bradley's stepdaughter, along with two short stories Bradley wrote while in prison.

Claude Maxwell, the lead investigator in the murder trial of Bradley's stepdaughter took the stand Friday. He was a detective for the Cumberland County homicide division when 8-year-old Ivy Gibson was reported missing in June 1988.

Two days after Ivy disappeared, Maxwell says Bradley confessed to killing his step-daughter and told authorities where he put the body. According to Maxwell, Bradley broke down on the stand and said, "I did it," through tears.

Bradley told detectives he choked Ivy and lost control. He wrapped a nylon sock around her neck, put her body in a trash bag, and then disposed of it at a county dump.

Here's the affidavit of Bradley's confession:

Sgt. Kevin Tully, the detective who interviewed Bradley 48 hours after Van Newkirk's disappearance, also to testified in court Friday.

During the initial interview, Bradley claimed he had not seen Van Newkirk since April 3 on a job, and had not had any contact with her the night she was last seen.

According to Tully, there were 16 phone calls between Van Newkirk and Bradley before she disappeared.

Bradley told the sergeant he frequently did mechanical work on Van Newkirk's scooter which was her only mode of transportation. Bradley claimed Van

Newkirk told him to remember the lock combination to her scooter because she was going to die soon.

Detectives interviewed Bradley a second time, April 11, 2014, at the Wilmington Police Department.

The jury was asked to leave the courtroom Friday while Bradley's defense attorney argued against having certain parts of that recorded interview played in court. The judge denied the request and said the recording will play out in its entirety when court resumes Monday at 9:30 a.m.

The prosecution said there are two more recorded police interviews, one video and one just audio, with Bradley that will also be played for the jury.

Reporter Connor DelPrete will be back in the courtroom to cover the trial Monday. You can follow him on Twitter (@CDelPreteWECT) for live updates.

Here's a look at what happened in court Thursday:

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