Closure, but no justice

By Laura Ann Sills - bioemail

RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM) -Closure, but no justice – That is how a murdered woman's family feels after the suspect changed his plea.

Bradley Stokes withdrew his not-guilty plea for the murder of Crystal Bailey, Friday afternoon.

Emotion turned into drama in the Russell County courtroom and the families had to be separated. The victim's family yelled things like "burn in hell" and "you are nothing but trash" towards Stokes.

Stokes pled guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to 170 months in prison to run concurrent with what he is already serving for a previous federal charge.  His attorney says he will likely serve 12 years in prison.

"The closure that I have is that for at least 12 years he will not be out on the streets," said Teresa Woodall, Bailey's mother.

The prosecution told the judge that if the case was taken to trial, given the facts of the case, a jury could conclude that defendant was guilty of murder.

The defense said they felt it was in Stokes' best interest to take the lesser guilty plea of manslaughter.

In the courtroom, Crystal Bailey's family all wore stickers that said "Justice for Crystal."  But, her mother said, "I feel anger because justice was not served, this was a case of murder."

Bradley Stokes sat in the courtroom while Teresa Woodall addressed him. She said that the only thing her daughter did wrong was to be "in love with her murderer."

At the time of the murder, Stokes and Bailey were living together.  They had a son, named Jaden.  Who Woodall claims saw his mom lying in her own blood the night of the murder.  She told News Leader Nine that he is now doing fine, "He's doing remarkably well considering that on the night that he killed her, for what he saw for close to a year he was going through therapy and he was having night mares."

A nightmare this mother says she still lives through every day.

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