Jewish World Review Oct. 25, 2000 / 26 Tishrei 5761
With prosecutors silent, the other
killer is released
COLUMBUS, Ohio | One of the killers of
3-year-old P.J. Bourgeois was already out on
the street, released early from prison by Franklin
County Common Pleas Court Judge Nodine
Miller. Now the other killer wanted Judge Miller
to let him out, too.
With Tracy Lynn Bratton, who helped to kill P.J., back in Lewistown, Pa.
(one of the reasons Judge Miller let Bratton out of prison was so she could
care for two other children in Lewistown), Bratton's boyfriend -- Patrick
Bourgeois, P.J.'s father -- filed a motion with Judge Miller asking her to grant
him "supershock probation" as she had to Bratton.
Franklin County prosecutors never responded to Bourgeois' motion. They
didn't oppose it, they didn't offer their opinion on it, they didn't do a thing.
"We would have opposed it if we had known the motion had been filed,"
Franklin County Prosecuting Atty. Ron O'Brien told us.
What? Was O'Brien saying that his office was unaware that a killer had filed a
motion with the court asking to be set free early?
"Our files never reflected that the motion was received," O'Brien told us.
Was O'Brien implying that Bourgeois' defense attorney had somehow not
served the prosecutors with the motion to free Bourgeois?
"I don't want to say that," O'Brien said.
Bourgeois' attorney, Kirk McVay, is indignant at any hint of a suggestion that
he had not provided the prosecutors with the motion.
"I filed it last March," McVay said. "I took it right to the prosecutor's office.
What they did with it, I don't know."
The assistant prosecutor in charge of the case against P.J.'s killers -- Ed
Morgan, chief of the office's criminal division -- told us: "I never saw the
motion." He said he believes be might have been on vacation when it was
So it appears that Patrick Bourgeois' motion to be let out of prison for killing
his son was lost by the prosecutors who had the power to oppose it.
And they didn't oppose it -- they didn't respond to it. The motion went in
front of Judge Miller with no argument against it from the prosecutors.
Judge Miller told us that the fault for this belongs in one place and one place
only: the prosecutor's office.
"I have no idea whether they forgot it in their office, or what," Judge Miller
said. "This was pending for a very long time [from March, when McVay filed
the motion on behalf of Bourgeois, until late in the summer, when Judge Miller
ruled on the motion]."
The judge told us that if prosecutors had in any way told her that their failure
to oppose Bourgeois' request to be released was because they had been
unaware of the motion's existence, "I would have given them more time."
Even after she had ruled that Bourgeois should be released from prison early,
she would have considered a motion from the prosecution asking her to
reconsider her decision, the judge said -- had the prosecutors let her know in
an official way that their failure to respond to Bourgeois' motion was because
they weren't aware that it had been filed.
"They didn't do it -- they didn't ask me to reconsider or give them more time,"
Judge Miller told us. Any statement by prosecutors to the contrary, Judge
Miller said, is "totally inaccurate."
So with the boy dead and unable to speak for himself, with one of his killers
out of prison and living with other children, with the second killer asking to be
released, with no objection from the prosecutors, Judge Miller did indeed
sign the papers that would release Patrick Bourgeois and put him back on the
There was to be another hearing --to set the conditions for Bourgeois' release
-- and by that time the prosecutors knew what had happened. But even at
that hearing, they did not object to Bourgeois going free. "It was too late at
that point," assistant prosecutor Morgan told us. Judge Miller disagrees: She
told us she would have listened to anything Franklin County prosecutors
would have presented to her at that point.
"If I were the judge, I would not have done what she did," Prosecuting Atty.
O'Brien told us. But he conceded that, through a series of apparent mistakes,
his office did nothing to try to stop her.
So Judge Miller made it official: The other killer of the 3-year-old boy was
going to walk free. We will report
JWR contributor Bob Greene is a novelist and columnist. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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