Bradford Neal Meeks released over weekend

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Bradford Neal Meeks (Cullman County Sheriff’s Office)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Bradford Neal Meeks, convicted in January 2020 of criminally negligent homicide in the DUI crash that killed 15-year-old Curtis James Wilson, was released from custody over the weekend according to Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry. He had been sentenced to a total of 12 years.  

The fatal car crash occurred on Sunday, May 7, 2017, on County Road 222 in front of Van’s Sporting Goods. Wilson was a vibrant athlete and student at Cullman High School. His mother, Ashley Wilson, was injured in the crash. Toxicology reports from UAB Hospital showed Meeks had a blood alcohol content of .256, over three times the legal limit, at the time of the wreck. 

Once indicted in October 2017 on charges including reckless murder, DUI .08 or greater, DUI, unsafe lane change, driving on wrong side of the road, possession of open container of alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle and third-degree assault, Meeks made a $150,000 property bond set by Cullman County Circuit Judge Martha Williams. 

While out on bond and awaiting trial, Meeks was arrested again on Feb. 28, 2019, on charges of bail jumping, third-degree domestic violence- harassing communications and harassment, as well as unlawful possession of a controlled substance. The Cullman County Sheriff’s Office at the time said Meeks was found with methamphetamine when warrants were served. Meeks was given a $25,000 cash bond. 

Meeks’ trial in Curtis Wilson’s death began in January 2020 where witness to the accident Leeroy Fortner recalled the horrific day of May 7, 2017. Witnessing Meeks’ erratic driving and ensuing car crash, Fortner and his wife were the first to the vehicle driven by Ashley Wilson. As Fortner attempted to help Ashley Wilson, he testified, “All she could do was cry and ask about her baby.” She was referring to her son Curtis, the passenger in her vehicle. 

On Jan. 30, 2020, a Cullman County jury convicted Meeks, then 29, of Bremen, of criminally negligent homicide, third-degree assault for the injuries sustained by Ashley Wilson, improper lane usage and DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater. He was found not guilty of reckless murder, manslaughter and driving on the wrong side of the road. 

At sentencing, Cullman County Circuit Judge Greg Nicholas imposed the maximum sentence for each charge: 10 years for criminally negligent homicide involving DUI, 12 months for third-degree assault and 12 months for DUI. The sentence called for 10 years in a state prison for the homicide charge and 12-month sentences for each of the assault and DUI charges, both of which were to be served in the Cullman County Detention Center following completion of the state sentence.  

On June 8, 2020, Meeks requested an appeal for his conviction to the Cullman County Circuit Court. At that time, he had served one year, three months and 23 days in the Cullman and Blount County Detention Centers, for which he received credit for time served.  

The Cullman County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion for retrial days before Meeks’ request, alleging juror misconduct. According to the motion, “The State discovered that one of the empaneled jurors had a felony conviction in Cullman County. A felony conviction is good grounds to challenge a juror by either party. The State would have exercised a challenge for cause against venire member.” The document, dated March 9, was filed with the Circuit Court on June 5. 

On June 11, 2020, Assistant District Attorney John Bryant withdrew his motion for a retrial, stating, “The State has elected to withdraw its petition for a new trial out of respect for the victim and victim’s family and their requests due to the extreme difficulty of going through the trauma of another trial.” 

On July 22, 2021, an Alabama appellate court upheld the homicide conviction but rejected the 10 year sentence imposed by Nicholas on the basis that a 10-year Class C felony sentence for a defendant who is not a “habitual felony offender” must result in actual prison time of no more than two years, followed by probation of no more than three years.  

While having an extensive criminal record with a history of felony arrests, Meeks had never been convicted of a felony. Two, including a 2015 charge of attempted murder of a Cullman County law enforcement officer, were pleaded down to misdemeanors. One Madison County felony case was dismissed when the Madison County District Attorney’s Office there was informed, “Defendant has been convicted of an offense in Cullman County and received a 10-year sentence.”  

An itemized chronological listing of all offenses recorded in Alacourt for Meeks between 2012 and the present includes the following offenses related to driving and/or drug and alcohol use, among others: 

  • Running a red light 
  • Failure to stop at a stop sign 
  • Second-degree possession of marijuana 
  • Speeding 
  • Unspecified driver’s license issue 
  • Speeding 
  • Use or possession of drug paraphernalia 
  • Public intoxication 
  • Illegal possession of alcohol 
  • Leaving the scene of an accident 
  • Reckless driving 
  • Leaving the scene of an accident 
  • Speeding 
  • Speeding 
  • Public intoxication 
  • Use or possession of drug paraphernalia 
  • DUI-combined influence of alcohol and controlled substance 
  • DUI (in Spanish Fort) 
  • Criminally negligent homicide  
  • Third-degree assault 
  • Improper lane usage 
  • DUI-alcohol