A William Penn student accused of allegedly attempting to kill a man on the campus of William Penn University on Nov. 1 was freed after a Mahaska County magistrate judge heard the evidence against him.

Daniel Thomas Bradley, 22, of Indianapolis, Ind., had attempted murder charges against him dropped by Mahaska County Magistrate Scott Campbell, who ruled that the evidence against him was insufficient to hold the case over for trial in Mahaska County District Court. The charges stemmed from an incident on the campus of William Penn University on the night of Nov. 1 near Elste Hall. Elste Hall is a dormitory on the east side of the campus.

According to an officer who testified on Wednesday, when they arrived, they found 10 to 15 students running around and yelling on the east side of the hall. Officers questioned a Brandon Lawerence who told them Bradley had fired three shots at them in an attempt to kill him. Lawerence told officers he was standing in front of a vehicle he was driving when Bradley allegedly shot at him. The rounds struck the vehicle, the officer said.

Officers did find a hole in the front grill of the vehicle and a hole in the radiator. The officer told the court one round was recovered.

Officers then questioned Lawerence’s brother, Kevin, who told officers the same thing Brandon had said.

Mahaska County Attorney Charles Stream then asked if officers had interviewed anyone else.

Dajuan Foster, who works as the Elste Hall director and is not a student, was inside the building when he heard the gunfire. Upon going outside, he smelled the gunpowder and called the police. The officer told court officials that officers also interviewed Penn student Travis Cox, who told them he had been outside and heard three shots and the muzzle flash, but did not see who fired the shots.

Both Lawerence brothers said after firing the shots, Bradley then ran toward his room in the dorm building.

The officer told the court that Bradley was later located in the dorm, but not in his room.

Stream asked the officer how close the bullet came to striking Brandon Lawerence. The officer said it was within three to four feet of him. Stream then asked the officer if all the shots were fired in the direction of Brandon Lawerence. The officer told the court that it did.

Bradley’s attorney, Joel Yates, asked the officer if Brandon and Kevin Lawerence were students at the college. The officer told the court they were not. Yates then asked if a weapon had been located, to which the officer also said no.

“You would think you would have a gun,” Yates said.

Yates then asked around what time the shots were allegedly fired. The officer said around 9:42 p.m. Yates then asked if the police department had gathered any forensic evidence on the scene, which the officer told the court they had not.

The defense attorney told the court that the car that allegedly brought Bradley to the campus had Texas license plates. Yates asked if officers knew if Bradley had been with owner of the car, which he said no and that he had not personally interviewed the owner of the car.

Yates said the Lawerence brother’s reason for being on campus was unknown, but that they had been asked to leave campus. He then asked the officer if there was any physical evidence linking his client to the shooting incident. The officer said there was not any.

The defense attorney then indicated to the court that both Bradley’s car and dorm room had been searched, but that police officers had not seized anything from the car or room.

Yates then had two Penn students testify on behalf of Bradley. Both students told the court that Bradley had been with them in one of the dorm rooms playing video games from around 8 p.m. until around 10 p.m. when police officers arrested him. Yates asked one of the students if Bradley could have left the room at any time, to which the student said no.

Yates also asked the students if they knew if Bradley owned any guns, which the said no.

A third student took the stand and told the court he knew who Bradley was. The third student said he was going between dorm rooms when he saw a group of people numbering between 15 and 20. The student testified that he did not know any of the people in the group, and did not ever see Bradley outside near the group.

Yates also called upon Bradley’s mother, Robin Reece, of Indianapolis, Ind., to testify before the court.

Reece told the court she was there because she was concerned about her son and the charges he was facing. She told the court that she had been in contact with officials at William Penn University and had been told that a group of men were seen “hanging around” her son’s room the evening of the incident.

She was informed that the men were told to leave by campus security and that she was told by campus officials that the same men were still on campus when the shots were fired.

Yates asked Reece if the crowd included the Lawerences.

Reece told the court she assumes the Lawerences were part of the crowd, but that she does not believe her son had a gun.

She indicated that the Lawerence brothers had met her son on one other occasion over the summer when they exchanged words over a bicycle incident involving a friend of Bradley’s. Reece said her son had told her that the Lawerences had threatened to steal his car and knew his vehicle.

After Reece testified, Stream recalled the Oskaloosa Police officer who testified at the beginning of the hearing. The officer told the court that they had been told Bradley was with two other black males when he came on campus and that all three ran. The officer told the court that the other two black males allegedly ran across the street to another building. The officer indicated that Bradley had called a female friend, claiming he had fired the shots on campus.

Bradley’s female friend’s home was the scene of a second shooting that evening.

The officer indicated that the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation had interviewed her in the Bradley case.

Stream asked the officer if he believed if the two cases were connected. The officer said he believes that they are.

Yates, in his closing statements, said eight days after the shooting, the police had no gun, because the Lawerences made up the story and that he had two witnesses that testified that Bradley was with them at the time of the incident. He said officials had asked the Lawerences to leave campus and that they had “just hung around.”

Yates said the case could not be forwarded to the district court on such scant evidence.

Stream said the court was dealing with probable cause in the case and that was sufficient to move the case to district court.

Campbell said he had a hard time believing the Lawerences’ story and that he doesn’t feel Bradley was involved based on the evidence presented.

Herald Assistant Editor Eric Coop can be reached by email at coop@oskyherald.com

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