La Salle County bow and arrow killing suspect won’t stand trial in 2020

French could get trial setting on Dec. 30

He waited 10 months to get back to La Salle County and will wait another month before learning when his do-over murder trial will be held.

Bradley French, 27, of Varna, made his first appearance Tuesday ahead of a second trial for first-degree murder. French would face 20-60 years in prison if convicted of killing Joshua Scaman in 2015 with a razor-tipped hunting arrow.

French applied for the public defender and told Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. he had no income or assets to hire a lawyer. That was expected: French was just released from the Illinois Department of Corrections, where he’d been serving 30 years for murder until an appeals court overturned his conviction in the Scaman killing.

Ryan then set a Dec. 30 status hearing for French, noting, “We’ll see how COVID is doing.”

The upshot is French will not stand trial this year for the Scaman killing. Assuming the courts stay open amid a new surge of the novel coronavirus, Ryan and the attorneys are unlikely to press for a trial until late winter or early spring, by which time the infection rate will have receded and/or vaccinations are readily available.

French and Scaman had argued by telephone early Father’s Day 2015 and agreed to square off in a remote parking lot at Illinois Valley Community College. French arrived with a compound bow and admitted to police firing an arrow at Scaman, causing him to bleed to death. French was barred at trial from arguing self-defense and that, ruled the Third District Appellate Court ruled, was a mistake requiring a new trial.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins covers criminal justice in La Salle County.