Looking back on Ward County’s case against Bradley Morales, as retrial begins

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 6:27 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. – Jury selection began Monday in the retrial of Bradley Morales, the man accused of stabbing 25-year-old Sharmaine Leake in 2017, the mother of his three children.

Here is a recap of the events leading up to Monday.

In August 2017, then-28-year-old Bradley Morales was arrested for attempted murder for stabbing Sharmaine Leake, the mother of his three children, during a dispute.

Prosecutors later upgraded the charge against Morales to murder, after Leake died in the hospital.

After close to a year of investigations and court proceedings, Morales faced a 12-person jury trial, where they found him guilty, and was later sentenced to 40 years in prison.

“No probation if you get out early it’s going to be on parole. It’s a 40-year straight sentence,” said Judge Douglas Mattson, North Central District judge.

However, less than a year later in 2019, Morales appealed the case, contending that the court violated his sixth amendment rights by closing off proceedings to the public.

The state supreme court agreed, vacating the conviction.

Fast forward three years, Morales is now facing a new jury this week for the original charge of AA-felony murder and this time he is representing himself.

“Work with your standby council, it’s not the court’s job. I can’t be the one ordering up items in that I am not the one,” said Mattson.

Jury selection will wrap up Tuesday morning and opening arguments are slated to start shortly after.

Morales faces the chance of life in prison without parole if convicted.

The trial is slated for 10 days but could end sooner based on how fast both the state and defense go through their arguments.

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