The Innocence Clinic, a project of the University of Miami School of Law “dedicated to identifying and correcting wrongful convictions,” has taken up the case of former Warlocks Motorcycle Club probate named James Madison Bedsole. Bedsole was charged with murdering a man named Chad Brickey in September 2009 and was convicted in February 2011.
Bedsole is currently serving a sentence of life in prison at the Okaloosa Correctional Institution. Another convict at Okaloosa, a man named Justin Sarsfield who is also serving a life sentence, has confessed to Brickey’s murder. In his confession Sarsfield wrote, “I did not know that I hit Brickey with the shot that I fired until I met Bedsole…. I am coming forward with this information because I cannot allow Bedsole to be wrongfully convicted for a crime I committed myself.”
Craig Trocino, who is the Associate Director of the Innocence Clinic, told the Orlando Sentinel that the Miami Law School has been looking at Bedsole’s case since 2012.
Guarding The Bikes
During his trial, Assistant State Attorney Les Hess used Bedsole’s association with the Warlocks to convince a jury he was a murderer.
Hess alleged that Bedsole was guarding the motorcycles in front of a Warlocks’ hangout named Sharky’s Bar in Lockhart, Florida when Brickey ran over a bike in the parking lot. “One of his jobs as a probate was to guard the bikes. He was motivated,” Hess said.
It was not a Warlocks bike. Bedsole said he had had four drinks that night and that he had briefly chased Brickey to try to get a license plate number before giving up and going inside.
A security guard named Holguy Louissaint who worked at the strip mall where Sharky’s was located did pursue Brickey and as he drove out of the mall somebody jumped in the back of his pickup truck. Hess told jurors that man was Bedsole and that he had overreacted in order to ingratiate himself with club patch holders. “He was working his way in,” Hess explained.
According to the prosecutor, Bedsole told Louissaint to follow Brickey. When Brickey pulled into a gas station in Apopka, his killer leapt from the back of the truck like an action hero and shot Brickey in the back of the head as Brickey was driving in circles trying to escape. “He was shot from almost directly behind the pickup truck,” Hess told the jury. Brickey crashed into a ditch. Then, according to the prosecution, Bedsole ran away and Louissaint drove away. Local police responding to a call from the gas station found Brickey dead.
At the trial, Louissaint could not identify Bedsole as the man who jumped into the back of his truck.
Bedsole’s lawyer, Jeff Dowdy, told the jury, “You are being asked to make so many leaps of faith here, it’s incredible. There’s a verdict here. It’s not guilty.”
The jury believed Hess, not Dowdy. Now a judge will decide to either ignore Sarsfield’s confession or give Bedsole another shot at justice.