Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man found guilty in Rachel Hoffman's murder

TALLAHASSEE

Irv Hoffman came to court for a week and listened to the grisly details of his daughter's murder. He left when the medical examiner took the stand. But two restless days of jury deliberation shook his spirit. And before the sun rose Thursday — his daughter's birthday — Hoffman left this Panhandle city and its dark significance seeking solace at her grave in Palm Harbor. "I wanted to be here today," he said. "Today was my day to be with Rachel."

Moments before Hoffman arrived at the grave site, the jury entered the Leon County courtroom and returned a guilty verdict against one of two men charged with the murder of Rachel Hoffman, a 23-year-old Countryside High School graduate who acted as a police informant in a May 2008 botched drug sting.

It took nearly 22 hours for jurors to convict Deneilo Bradshaw, 24, on charges of first-degree murder and robbery. Today, the 12-member panel will consider whether to recommend the death penalty.

"It is kind of bittersweet," Hoffman said of the timing. "I think it's really ironic that the verdict came on her birthday."

He bought a carrot cake, her favorite, from Publix and sat at her grave all day as her friends and others came to visit with trinkets and balloons.

"She was full of life and mischief," he said.

Rachel Hoffman, a Florida State University graduate who wanted to become a chef, began working as a police informant to avoid jail time after getting arrested for marijuana possession for the second time in as many years.

Despite her inexperience, Tallahassee police and federal Drug Enforcement Administration officers gave Hoffman $13,000 to buy 1,500 ecstasy pills, cocaine and a gun from Bradshaw and his brother-in-law Andrea Green, 27, on May 7, 2008.

Officers lost Hoffman when the two men changed the location of the drug buy to a dead-end road north of Tallahassee.

About 36 hours later, they found her bullet-ridden body, covered by her Grateful Dead sweatshirt, in a ditch by a rural road.

Defense attorneys will argue at today's hearing that Green — who goes on trial for murder next year — is the mastermind in the robbery, not Bradshaw.

But prosecutors will emphasize evidence that Bradshaw arranged the drug deal, stole the handgun used to kill her, bought bleach to clean the blood from her car, and then used the money to buy clothes and jewelry at an Orlando mall.

The jury's decision to find Bradshaw guilty of simple robbery, instead of the initial charge of armed robbery, gives the defense team hope that the jury feels Bradshaw played a lesser role. The attorneys will ask jurors to recommend a life-long prison sentence instead of death. The sentencing decision ultimately comes to Circuit Judge Mark Walker.

Bradshaw's family is expected to testify at the sentencing hearing. His stepfather, Karey Freeman, said he disagreed with the jury's verdict.

"I think the evidence presented by the defense team was sufficient to say this boy didn't do what they said he did," Freeman said. "He may be guilty of something, but not what he was charged with."

John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

Get complete coverage

For previous coverage of the Rachel Hoffman case, visit links.tampabay.com.







Man found guilty in Rachel Hoffman's murder 12/17/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 17, 2009 11:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Val Kilmer says he's canceling his Tampa Bay Comic Con appearance

    Blogs

    Val Kilmer and the Tampa Bay Comic Con announced today that the Batman, Tombstone and Willow star has canceled his appearance at the convention in Tampa this weekend. 

    Val Kilmer has canceled his appearance at Tampa Bay Comic Con.
  2. Brain study examined 111 former NFL players. Only one didn't have CTE.

    Storm

    Researchers studying the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy found that 99 percent of the brains donated by families of former NFL players showed signs of the neurodegenerative disease, according to a new study published Tuesday.

    In this 1974 file photo, Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler looks to pass. Research on the brains of 202 former football players has confirmed what many feared in life _ evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a devastating disease in nearly all the samples, from athletes in the NFL, college and even high school. Stabler is among the cases previously reported. (AP Photo/File)
  3. Two-vehicle collision leaves driver dead, another with serious injuries

    Accidents

    SAN ANTONIO — A two-vehicle collision Tuesday morning in Pasco County left one person dead and another with serious injuries.

  4. Bob Graham says Trump appears to be pushing Jeff Sessions aside to get at Robert Mueller

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON - President Trump's attack on Attorney General Jeff Sessions is "unseemly" and without precedent, former Florida Sen. Bob Graham said this morning. 

    Former Sen. Bob Graham on CNN
  5. Innovocative Theatre company debuts with workmanlike production of 'Proof'

    Stage

    TAMPA — A new company debuts with Proof, David Auburn's Pulitzer-winning play. Innovocative Theatre, founded by Dunedin native Staci Sabarsky, is currently running productions out of Stageworks Theatre space. Sabarsky also directs and performs in the show.

    Dennis Duggan plays Robert Marie-Claude Tremblay plays Catherine in Innovocative Theatre's first production, Proof, by David Auburn. Photo courtesy of Staci Sabarsky.