The trucker who was behind the wheel in a deadly human smuggling attempt that ended last year at a southwest side Walmart has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.
James Bradley, 61, said in a videotaped statement that the images of dead bodies haunt his nightmares.
"My heart goes out to the families who have lost loved ones," he said in the jailhouse video. "If I could turn back the hands of time, I would. I'm sorry. There is not a day or night that goes by that I don’t relive that scene."
Police body cam footage, played at the sentencing hearing, showed bodies stacked on top of each other inside Bradley's refrigerated trailer, which did not have working air conditioning that hot summer night last July. Ten people were found dead. Dozens were injured, some so badly that they have spent months on dialysis for kidney failure.
San Antonio Police Officer Hector Ibarra was the first on scene, and described what it was like when the doors were opened.
"There was a lot of moaning and groaning and you could feel the heat," he said, remembering how he had to wade through urine, blood and feces to get to the front of the trailer.
Cory Downs, a special agent with Homeland Security, testified that the migrants were told that, as soon as Bradley's big rig left Laredo, the vents would turn on. That was a deadly lie. Inside, as the situation became dire, migrants started to use keys and tools to punch holes in the trailer, in order to breath.
"Someone tried to claw their way through (a grate). There was blood everywhere," he told the judge.
That was enough to sour Federal Judge David Ezra, who said that farmers don’t even treat their livestock like this when they take them to market.
"It can only be equated with torture."
Defense attorneys at today's sentencing tried to paint Bradley as someone with sub-adequate intelligence who was duped into smuggling aliens from Laredo to San Antonio. He received about $5,000 for the work, court papers show. In their video, which was a police interview after he was taken into custody, Bradley feigned ignorance that his trailer was full of humans.
"Why would you get in a refrigerated container?" he asked the investigator. "It's airtight!"
Bash says the harsh sentence sends a message. He says Bradley's actions are revolting.
"It is like nothing you can imagine, and it just illustrates the horrific nature of the offense."