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Man admits he choked jailer during 1984 escape

A 36-year-old construction worker told a Circuit Court judge Tuesday that he was "not a criminal" after pleading guilty to charges that he attempted to choke a courthouse jailer to death during a dramatic escape in September 1984.

Harrel Braddy was sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempted murder by Dade Circuit Judge Edward Cowart.

Braddy also awaits trial in Broward County for escaping from Broward sheriff's deputies twice within three days last September.

In the first escape, he fled the emergency room of Memorial Hospital in Hollywood, where he was under treatment for police dog bites received when arrested and charged with burglary of an electronics store. The dogs bit him again when he was found three hours later.

Placed back in the emergency room, Braddy attacked the deputies watching him three days later, stole their guns and ran away, police said.

Armed and bleeding, he fled to the home of an elderly Hollywood Hills couple, where he hid for six hours in a closet. He was captured again in mid-October.

Braddy was charged with attempted murder, robbery, kidnapping, escape, armed burglary, armed robbery and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon in Cowart's court.

Under terms of a plea agreement, Cowart ordered a series of concurrent sentences. The longest was 30 years in prison.

Lewis said that Braddy, the father of four children, could be released from prison in 13 to 15 years.

"I don't feel like I'm a threat to society, " Braddy told the judge after he was sentenced. "I have violated the law. I'm not what you call a highway robber. I don't consider myself a criminal."

"I grew up in Liberty City. I was working for a living. I had never been fired. I've been a foreman. I'm not a mass murderer. My intention was not to get myself killed -- to hurt anyone."

Braddy was in jail in September 1984 on charges that he attempted to kill his girlfriend, June Wallace.

Prosecutor Dan Lewis told Cowart that on Sept. 14, Braddy was taken from a second-floor courtroom in the Metro Justice Building to the jail by corrections officer Jose Bermudez.

Braddy grabbed Bermudez and began choking him, Lewis said. Bermudez passed out.

In a locked stairwell in the courthouse, Braddy and Bermudez scuffled a second time, Lewis said. Again, Braddy attempted to choke Bermudez.

Lewis said that Braddy dragged Bermudez into a holding cell, took Bermudez's jail keys and locked the jailer inside.

Bermudez's throat was swelling, Lewis said. The jailer pounded for 15 minutes on a metal cell toilet before other corrections officers heard the noise and opened the cell.

After Braddy escaped, he was the target of a multistate manhunt. He was captured Oct. 14 by a highway patrol trooper in Georgia.

Braddy told Cowart that he had a .357 magnum revolver in the front seat of his car when he was stopped in Georgia.

"I did not attempt to do anything, " he said. "He didn't know who I was. The fact is, I told him who I was. I don't feel like I'm a threat to society."

After his arrest, Braddy was returned to Dade County. The charges that he attempted to kill his girlfriend were dropped. He was jailed for trial on charges that he tried to kill Bermudez.