NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The jury found James Bradley guilty of second-degree murder for killing his co-worker, Shannon Rippy Van Newkirk, who went missing April 5, 2014. Her body has never been found.
The unanimous decision was presented before Bradley, the district attorney's office and Van Newkirk's family and friends.
"Thank you, but I still want my daughter home," Van Newkirk's mother, Roberta Lewis, said after the verdict was read.
Bradley was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison with a maximum of 37.5 years.
Prosecutors spent two weeks calling witnesses and presenting evidence from evidence seizures and crime scenes. The district attorney referenced Elisha Tucker's crime scene throughout the trial. Her decomposed body was discovered in a search for Van Newkirk's on a piece of property Bradley worked on.
District Attorney Ben David said in a press conference that proving Bradley's murder was no easy feat. There was no body, no murder weapon and no outright confession from Bradley at any point during the investigation.
"That was a moment we knew this would be an uphill battle," David added. "While we obtained legal closure today and James Bradley will never be getting out of prison and we are pleased with that, the goal has always been to bring Shannon home and thatt remains our goal."
The defense cast doubt over the execution of search warrants. Attorney Rick Miller said with no body, no murder weapon and no confession from Bradley, his client's involvement in Van Newkirk's disappearance and presumed death is nonexistent.
Miller told the judge they will be appealing the verdict. David said if the appeal is filed, he is "very confident" the defense would not win the appeal.
Bradley is also charged with Tucker's murder. A date has not been for that trial. The state is seeking the death penalty in that case.
Copyright WECT 2017. All rights reserved.