Correction: An earlier version had a typo which has been corrected.
In May of 2020, LaRue Bratcher shot a man who was allegedly breaking into his marijuana grow operation, identified as Daniel Hardwick. The gunshot killed him.
Since then, Bratcher has been in jail awaiting trial for charges that include running an illegal marijuana business and first-degree murder.
Bratcher said the medical marijuana business was legitimate but the license lapsed. As for the murder charge, she said he was just defending himself.
The two met while they were in the Army together. She said the past year has felt like deployment all over again, leaving her alone with the kids, this time unsure if he’ll ever come home.
“He didn’t go looking for anybody. He was just there,” Vicky Bratcher said.
There at the medical marijuana grow house Bratcher had started legally.
That night in May, it was about midnight when Bratcher saw a man allegedly trying to break into his business. Bratcher’s attorney said his client went to investigate what was going on. When he got to the door he believed the man was trying to get into, he shot a warning shot through the bottom half, not knowing Hardwick was crouched in front of it.
Hardwick was hit and killed.
“Him and myself, our entire family is very, very sorry for a life that has been taken away,” Vicky said. “There’s nothing that we can do to bring that life back, which is painful.”
Bratcher’s attorney, Clay Curtis, said it was simply self-preservation.
“What Larue Bratcher did was reasonable and God forbid any one of us ever find ourselves in that situation,” Curtis said.
But that’s not what the district attorney believed when he added a first-degree murder charge to Bratcher’s case.
On top of that, Bratcher was charged with running the medical marijuana grow without a license.
Curtis said this was only because after the Unity Bill passed through the legislature, municipalities were given the ability to impose regulations for marijuana businesses inside their jurisdictions.
“They wanted him to make a number of improvements to the building that he just couldn’t afford,” Curtis said, “but he was attempting to maintain his license and to do everything the right way.”
Now Vicky is hoping Oklahomans will find him innocent.
“I need my husband back and I wish…I would do anything to bring him back,” Vicky said.
District Attorney David Prater declined to comment on the case ahead of the trial, scheduled for May.
KFOR also reached out to family and friends of Hardwick who declined to comment for this story.