Jurors watch interviews between James Bradley and law enforcement

Jurors watch interviews between James Bradley and law enforcement

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - James Bradley sat in the courtroom Monday intently watching himself on video from an interview with detectives in 2014 in regards to the disappearance of Shannon Rippy Van Newkirk.

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

When questioned by detectives following Van Newkirk's disappearance, Bradley admitted he was "the last person to see her alive," but denies involvement in her disappearance or presumed death.

The jury watched a two-hour long interview between Sgt. Kevin Tully and Bradley that was recorded April 15, 2014, at the Wilmington Police Department.

Bradley's head was bent down at the start of the interview. He told authorities Van Newkirk called him Saturday evening disappointed Steve Mott hadn't made plans for her birthday.

Tully told Bradley in the interview that her phone records showed Van Newkirk was downtown and Bradley was the last person she had talked to. He asked if Bradley had picked her up.

During the interview, Bradley claimed he did not pick up Van Newkirk Friday or Saturday and that the last time he had talked to her was on the way home from church Saturday. Bradley grew increasingly aggravated and had trouble remembering certain details about what he did that weekend.

"This is a time where I wish I had kept more track," Bradley told detectives.

The detective showed Bradley a surveillance picture of Van Newkirk going into The Husk in downtown Wilmington.

"This is crazy. It's really stressing me out," Bradley said in the 2014 interview.

When the Tully left the room, Bradley checked the time on his watch, put his head in his hands and started sniffling.

District Attorney Ben David called Tully to testify in court Monday.

Tully and other detectives went to the Scotchman on Third Street to review surveillance footage. The detective said they saw a vehicle consistent with the description of Bradley's truck the night Van Newkirk went missing.

"You can see there is a passenger in the car," Tully explained, adding the person was wearing a white shirt, similar to Van Newkirk's description.

In the afternoon session, prosecutors played an audio confrontation between Tully and Bradley when the detective showed up to the defendant's home with a search warrant. The warrant was obtained after police obtained surveillance of Bradley in the downtown area.

"We found some interesting things that happened to be untruthful on your part," Tully said to Bradley. "We are here to rock your world and we are going to take you to trial."

When Tully pressed for answers, Bradley started visibly sweating.

"The sweat is pouring off of you. Where is she?" Tully asked. "Are those tears or is that sweat?"

"I now know the things you told me were absolutely fictitious," Tully continued.

"I am in a jam because there is something going on bigger than me and all I want to do is bow out gracefully," Bradley replied.

Later in the conversation, Bradley changed his tune, claiming he had picked Van Newkirk up, but dropped her off at the Village Market.

"No, you didn't!" Tully exclaimed. "Your car doesn't come back downtown when you said it did."

Tully was referring to the cameras the team of detectives checked in the downtown area following Van Newkirk's disappearance.

Bradley then told detectives he picked her up and was driving her near Greenfield Lake when she jumped out of the truck. He agreed to ride with detectives around Greenfield Lake. The jury heard audio from the trip in the afternoon session.

The jury is expected to hear more audio from the trip to Greenfield Lake with Detective Hargrove in court Tuesday morning.

Follow WECT's Connor DelPrete on Twitter (@CDelPreteWECT) for live updates from the trial.

Here's a look at what happened in court Friday: http://bit.ly/2tEHQXF

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