Killer of Fountain Theatre's Ben Bradley faces sentencing
The killer of Bennett Bradley, a longtime director and producer at Hollywood’s Fountain Theatre, faces a possible sentence of 16 years to life after his conviction last week for second-degree murder.
The three-week trial in Los Angeles Superior Court did not yield the first-degree murder conviction that the district attorney’s office had sought against Jose Fructuoso, 27. Jurors deliberated for a day and a half before convicting him of the lesser charge on Nov. 23, district attorney’s spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales said Wednesday. Judge Dennis Landin set sentencing for Jan. 3.
First-degree murder can carry the death penalty, but prosecutors were not seeking it against Fructuoso, who stabbed the 60-year-old Bradley to death in the director’s mid-Wilshire apartment on Jan. 1, 2010.
Besides producing and directing plays during his 17 years with the Fountain –- including acclaimed stagings of August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” (2006) and “Gem of the Ocean” (2008) -– Bradley ran its box office and greeted audiences, making him, according to Fountain producing director Simon Levy, “our public face in many ways.”
In a statement issued this week, Stephen Sachs, the company's co-artistic director, said that “all of us in the Fountain family are pleased and relieved by the verdict and grateful that the trial phase of this horrific nightmare is over.... But … justice can never be fully served in our hearts.”
The Fountain has established the Ben Bradley Memorial Fund, with contributions used to develop new plays at the theater.
Investigators had said that Bradley and Fructuoso knew each other and had a sexual relationship. Evidence presented during the trial showed that Fructuoso slit Bradley’s neck twice with a knife, Davila-Morales said; Bradley’s bedroom had been ransacked and jewelry was taken, and prosecutors argued that robbery was a possible motive.
Fructuoso was arrested three days after the killing. According to the district attorney’s office, investigators used bloodstains at the scene and cellphone records to link him to the crime. Evidence in the case included a knife found at Fructuoso’s home that was tested and found to contain Bradley’s DNA.
-- Mike Boehm
Photo: Bennett Bradley, left, and Fountain Theatre producing director Simon Levy in 2000. Credit: Paul Morse/Los Angeles Times.