White Brothers Charged With Forcing Black Man to Jump Off Bridge
Mar. 14, 1996
SPRINGBORO, Pa. (AP) _ Two white brothers are accused of forcing a black man to strip and jump off an 18-foot bridge into the cold water.
Carl Morton, 25, waded back to shore and was naked, dazed and shivering when a bar owner found him stumbling down a dark road in the 10-degree cold.
Timothy Braden, 29, and his brother Bradley, 35, were arrested and charged with attempted homicide, kidnapping, ethnic intimidation and other offenses, and were jailed on $60,000 bail each in the March 7 incident.
The FBI said it is considering civil rights charges.
The incident surprised many residents because Morton and the Bradens knew each other for years.
``They are the last two people I thought would do something to Carl,'' said Judson McCleran, a friend of Morton's. He added: ``It's sad that they would do this to such a nice guy. And I really do believe they left him for dead.''
Morton was found by bar owner Donald Mugridge, who became suspicious when he saw the Braden brothers follow Morton out of Muggsy's North Star Tavern.
The bar owner speculated that the Bradens were still angry over being thrown out of the bar last month for an argument with Morton during which one of the brothers used a racial slur.
According to police, the Bradens abducted Morton in the parking lot, then drove him down a seldom-traveled road to a bridge over Conneaut Creek, where they forced him to strip.
State Trooper John Ochs said the brothers threatened to throw Morton off if he didn't jump. Morton, who can't swim, jumped. He told police about the incident three days later.
Mugridge described Morton as a shy man who tries to avoid arguments.
``I've called that kid `Buckwheat' before,'' said Mugridge, adding that Morton sometimes jokingly calls white people ``crackers.''
According to the 1990 census, only six of Springboro's 465 residents are black. The borough is about 25 miles southwest of Erie.
The defendants could get up 97 years in jail and $165,000 in fines.