HENNEPIN – The man accused of stabbing a 16-year-old Spring Valley girl to death in January pleaded guilty to murder Tuesday in Putnam County Court and was sentenced to 53 years in prison.
Diamond Bradley last was seen by her family on Jan. 23. She was reported missing the next day; her body was found alongside a rural Putnam County road on Jan. 27.
Richard A. Henderson, 26, of Standard, who met then girl online, must serve 100 percent of the sentence.
Putnam County State’s Attorney Christina Judd-Mennie was going to ask for 20 years to life had Henderson been convicted.
Mennie planned to present surveillance camera video of Henderson and Bradley; FBI evidence linking their cellphone locations on Jan. 24; and the murder weapon, a knife Henderson hid in an ash pit at the commercial greenhouse in Granville where he worked.
Henderson asked last week to negotiate a deal rather than proceed to the Dec. 17 bench trial with Judge Stephen A. Kouri, Public Defender Roger Bolin said.
The Bradley family agreed to the plea deal, Mennie said.
“This was their decision, and they really needed the closure. I can’t imagine being in their place,” she said.
Diamond’s mother, Doris Bradley, took the stand to share the impact the murder has had on her family.
She moved to the Illinois Valley for a better life for her children, but now that dream was gone, and her family no longer wants to live there because of the painful memories, she said.
“I have two other children, 14 and 11, and they can’t sleep at night,” Bradley said. “I can’t work the way I used to, and we’re all just trying to get through this so we can get on with our lives.
“Diamond was my everything. My house is so quiet, she was everything to us, and now it’s all been taken away from us. “