By Lauren Zaren
“I will never let this go.”
In early 2014, Bradley Robert Simmons and a woman he had known since high school ended their relationship of four years. They dated from 2011 to early 2014 and had a son, who is now 6 years old. For a year following the breakup, Simmons and his ex-girlfriend lived separate lives.
However, starting in 2015, Simmons began stalking and harassing his ex, and she sought a restraining order. The victim was the first to testify during the preliminary hearing in Department 9, explaining that she tried to maintain a friendly relationship after the breakup for the sake of their son.
Throughout late 2015 and early 2016, she alleged that Simmons would call her 100 or more times a day, in addition to leaving threatening voicemails and text messages. She was aware of his previous substance abuse issues and after knowing him for years could identify a change in his behavior, which she called “erratic”.
The harassment continued and escalated in the beginning of 2018, when his threats became more direct and violent. He would threaten her safety, claiming to be outside her house or workplace. Simmons would also threaten to commit suicide and to kill any other man she starts seeing. The messages made it difficult for her to have a normal day and do simple things like send a text message to her mother.
The victim explained that while she was living in fear, she never actually saw Simmons when he claimed to be outside. She was afraid of confrontation if she were to check outside, so opted to stay inside until some time had passed and she was confident that he was gone.
Concerns raised by her coworkers about the sheer amount of calls she received led her to file a domestic violence restraining order against Simmons which was granted on February 15th, 2018. She also noted a physical altercation which occurred in March of 2018, where he grabbed her arms and shoved her. She did not seek prosecutory action at this time.
She described him as “all over the place” and “desperate sounding”, and said his messages were a mixture of threats to her, her new boyfriend, or himself, insults, and pleas for her to take him back. She suspected that his behavior was tied to the use of cocaine and methamphetamine.
In the beginning of 2018, some time after the restraining order was in effect, she drove from her home in Woodland to Ione to meet Simmons and drive him to Sacramento. She felt that it was a life or death situation and was worried he would overdose or otherwise commit suicide.
Eventually, by the end of 2018 and throughout 2019, the calls and messages stopped. At this point, the victim was willing to lift the restraining order against Simmons. She hoped for “child centric” communication, for the sake of her son. She added that her older son lost his father years ago, and she wanted to do what she could to allow her son and Mr. Simmons to form a relationship.
Officer Michael Moore of Davis police department was next to testify. He was called to the victim’s workplace, Sutter Hospital in Davis, on the evening of April 2nd, 2018. He read several texts and excerpts from voicemails which were shocking and threatening. Some notable statements were “you will never be with anyone else as long as I’m on this f***ing earth” and that he would blow her head off.
In a voicemail, Simmons explained that he did not care if the Woodland police were called. He planned to kill himself before he could be taken into custody. Defense Attorney Monica Brushia added that he repeatedly said “I’m not doing good,” which showed his escalated emotional state.
Officer Moore also explained that Simmons had been using a phone application to “spoof” phone numbers, which prevented the victim from simply blocking his cell number.
The final witness was Detective Joshua Helton, who began his testimony by explaining that in stalking and harassment cases it is common for the victim to seek a revocation of a restraining order after some time without any issues.
He discussed the many ways the situation affected the victim, from not allowing her to use her phone normally, to stress and eventual doctor’s visits, hair loss, and (perhaps justified) paranoia. In an interview, she described how she had lingering trauma and felt unsafe in her own home. She would check every door and window before going out and make sure her car was locked before opening the garage door in case Simmons was waiting outside.
Detective Helton spoke with Mr. Simmons in December of 2018, where he admitted that he was aware of the restraining order and that he had been making “some calls” as well as some threatening messages.
Defense Attorney Brushia closed with the argument that the restraining order was used incorrectly as a sword rather than a shield. She cited the victim’s inconsistent testimony where she claimed to personally drive Mr. Simmons from Ione to Sacramento, while in a previous interview she stated she paid for an Uber to drive him.
She also mentioned the victim’s previous statement that “I’d been horrible to him,” and questioned the strength of the evidence without considering the other side of the conversation. Detective Helton testified that he did not review both sides of the text conversations that led to threats. The victim testified that at a certain point she was so angry and exhausted that she would lash out at him in an attempt to make him stop.
The prosecuting attorney Shelby Davitt argued that the number of calls and messages as well as the violent altercation and threats were sufficient to move forward with both charges against Simmons. She explained that the victim made the trip from Ione to Sacramento despite the restraining order in what she felt was a life or death situation. After all, the victim repeatedly explained her continued interest to find a way to connect her son to his father.
Judge Sonia Cortes held Bradley Simmons to answer on both charges, under CA penal code 646.9(b), a felony for stalking and violation of a court order, and a misdemeanor charge of harassment by telephone. He may also face an enhancement for a prior conviction.
An arraignment and a preliminary hearing concerning a second felony case will be held on June 25th at 10am in Department 11.