February 25, 2024
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Bow & arrow killing outside IVCC going back to trial

Appeals court: Suspect should have been allowed to argue self-defense

Bradley French

OTTAWA — The bow-and-arrow killing of 2015 is going back to trial.

Friday, an appeals court ruled in favor of Bradley French, the former Varna man convicted of killing Joshua Scaman outside Illinois Valley Community College, and ordered French remanded to La Salle County for a new trial.

The La Salle County State’s Attorney’s Office said Monday morning that French’s case is pending again and they therefore are barred by Illinois Supreme Court rules from commenting on active cases.

French was convicted and sentenced to 30 years for murder after Scaman died of blood loss from a razor-tipped hunting arrow that French admitted firing. At trial, French tried to argue he acted in self-defense but Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. wouldn’t permit that.

Friday, the 3rd District Appellate Court decided Ryan was wrong and sent the French case back to La Salle County for new trial.

In a unanimous ruling, Justice William Holdridge said maybe French wasn’t justified in using deadly force against Scaman, but that should have been for the jury to decide.

“(Ryan) obviously found that (French) had presented evidence that he had a subjective belief that self-defense was necessary, but then made the determination that such a belief was unreasonable,” Holdridge wrote. “That determination should have been left to the jury.”

French, now 26, remains held in the Illinois Department of Corrections but will returned to La Salle County Jail. He is set for a status hearing Friday, March 13, in La Salle County. New trial dates could be set at that time.

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or TCollins@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_Court.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins

Tom Collins covers criminal justice in La Salle County.