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Kern County DA's Office responds to commuted sentence of convicted murderer

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Posted at 2:08 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 17:08:24-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Kern County District Attorney's Office is responding to the governer's decision to commute the sentences for 22 convicts, including convicted Kern County murderer Steven Bradley.

"Governor Newsom’s clemency order, issued amidst a public health emergency, intentionally glosses over Bradley’s crimes in a drastically misguided effort to justify his potential release," said District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer in response. "The Kern County District Attorney’s Office will continue to strongly oppose any possibility of parole for this convicted killer.”

Although the commutation of Bradley’s sentence does not immediately grant his release, according to prosecutors, it gives Bradley an opportunity at release in future parole hearings by reducing his life without parole sentence to 32 years to life in prison.

Bradley was found guilty in 1998 of first-degree murder with special circumstances and robbery in the killing of gas station attendant Claude Baker.

According to the DA's Office, on September 7, 1987, at 2:30 a.m., Bradley went to the White Lane Shell station to get gas and robbed Baker. During the robbery, Bradley motioned two customers to walk toward him, and produced a shotgun, causing the two customers and Baker to begin running away.

Bradley chased down Baker and shot him with the shotgun in the back from 5 feet away, prosecutors said, and fired again at point blank range, killing Baker.

According to the DA's Office, Bradley fled in his vehicle and initiated a high-speed pursuit with police. The pursuit culminated with Bradley turning in a cul-de-sac and intentionally accelerating toward and ramming two police cars at 40 mph, causing major damage to all of the vehicles, the DA's office said.

While in the patrol car after being arrested, Bradley admitted that “I had to…he knows me,” in reference to the killing of Mr. Baker, the DA's office said.