OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – An almost three-year-old case involving an Oklahoma City man shooting a suspected burglar has come to an end. 36-year-old veteran LaRue Bratcher was facing potential prison time but has now been sentenced to ten years of probation.
“Well, I mean, obviously probation is better than prison,” said Clay Curtis, attorney for Overman Legal Group.
He explained to KFOR that his client LaRue Bratcher took a plea deal rather than face a jury trial for the manslaughter charge against him.
In May 2020, Bratcher was at his Oklahoma city marijuana grow business when he claims Daniel Hardwick tried to break in.
The then 33-year-old told police he fired three gunshots through the door to scare off Hardwick. When checked outside, Hardwick was dead.
“Mr. Bratcher maintained his innocence that the shots were necessary to protect himself from the intruder,” Curtis said.
A high-profile case would follow, with law enforcement determining Bratcher was operating his business with an expired license.
A judge would eventually dismiss a second-degree murder charge against Bratcher, but hit him with one for first-degree manslaughter resisting criminal attempt.
On February 15, 2023, Bratcher entered an Alford plea for the charge, meaning he maintains his innocence while accepting the guilty sentence.
Bratcher would also plead guilty for unlawful cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and possession of a weapon while committing a felony, and ultimately be sentenced to ten years of probation.
“I think realistically, Mr. Bratcher is excited,” Curtis said. “And certainly, I’m excited for him that the family can begin the process of putting this behind him. Mr. Bratcher is a beloved husband and father, a veteran, and this way he’s going to really ensure that he is at home where his family needs the most.”
He gave insight on Bratcher entering the Alford plea vs. going to a jury trial, that had been scheduled.
“Fortunately for him, he has a family who loves him and really can’t take any risk of not being at home with his family where he’s needed most,” Curtis explained. “So, he really had very little choice, I think, under the circumstances, and took the deal for that reason.”
KFOR reached out to District Attorney Vicki Behenna for a comment on the sentence and are waiting to hear back.