Could MLB have stopped Milton Bradley?
1:02 | MLB
Could MLB have stopped Milton Bradley?
Thursday January 7th, 2016

Former Major League Baseball player Milton Bradley’s request to have his 33-month jail sentence reduced was denied by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Wednesday. The ruling likely marks the end of a three-year legal odyssey that brought to light the harrowing acts of domestic violence Bradley inflicted on his late wife, Monique Bradley.

Judge Thomas Rubinson, who presided over Bradley’s 10-day trial in 2013, closed out Wednesday’s emotional, two-hour hearing with a quiet, 20 minute speech that boiled the complex case down to its finest points. After rehashing, in vivid detail, the roughly two dozen incidents of physical violence and intimidation Bradley perpetrated during his eight-year marriage to Monique (which ended with her death in 2013, due to an unrelated liver ailment), Rubinson made note of the “impressive” life plan Bradley had submitted to the court in hopes of gaining early release, then said that “the real test will come when he is released after serving his entire sentence … not because of promises he made so he could get out of jail.”

The tragic extent of Monique and Milton Bradley's violent relationship

Speaking directly to the 37-year-old ex-outfielder, Rubinson said he wants Bradley to execute his post-jail life plan—which includes community service, volunteer work and the pursuit of a college education—“when no one is making you do it, and when no one is watching.”

Bradley’s deep-rooted behavioral issues, Rubinson added, cannot be fixed during the nearly eight months of incarceration he has served so far. Rather, “this will be a lifelong process for Mr. Bradley to let go of the anger he carries with him.”

The hearing was conducted in a helpful, conciliatory tones—a surprising and uplifting coda to a case that had often been combative and contentious. Dr. Sharon Cooper, a retired Army colonel and one of the country’s foremost developmental pediatricians, testified on behalf of the prosecution that the well-being of Bradley’s two sons—ages 10 and 6—would not necessarily be improved if they were reunited with their father following early release. Weighing in Bradley’s favor throughout the case had been the strong evidence of his devotion to and love for his sons, along with the widely-held belief that children are better off with their birth parents, even if they’ve been convicted of serious crimes.

The welfare of Bradley’s sons had previously played a large role in Rubinson’s decision-making as to Bradley’s jail time. Wednesday’s testimony from Dr. Cooper, which Rubinson called “very compelling,” continued that trend, although in his final speech the judge removed the children from the equation, stating: “This is not a family court and not a juvenile dependency court … [and] the 960 days to which Mr. Bradley was originally sentenced is an appropriate sentence.”

Before the hearing adjourned, Bradley, wearing an oversized, orange, jail-issue jersey, spoke calmly on his own behalf, apologizing to his supporters in the gallery for all the pain and embarrassment he had caused them. In a controlled, even peaceful voice that belied his angry outbursts at trial—not to mention his volatile, 12-year, eight-team baseball career—Bradley told the judge that he accepted the ruling and will continue the counseling, therapy, and introspection he has been engaged in since his conviction. “I’ll continue to work on myself,” Bradley said.

Heeding the judge’s words about his post-jail life and the future of his children, Bradley added: “I’m going to prove myself.”

Bradley is scheduled to be released in August 2016.

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