On March 21, 1999, 39-year-old Ty Bradford ordered his girlfriend, Dixie Brown, to move out of their residence in Belgrade, Montana. When she refused, he called 911 to show he was serious. When the 911 operator answered, Bradford hung up, but the operator called back.
Brown answered the telephone and told the operator that Bradford had threatened to kill her with a butcher knife. Police were dispatched and Bradford denied threatening to kill Brown. He led police to a butcher knife in the kitchen sink where he said he had left it after making a sandwich.
Police didn’t believe Bradford and arrested him on charges of assault.
Bradford went on trial in Gallatin County District Court. Brown testified that Bradford held a knife to her throat and to her ribs and said he would kill her.
On August 3, 1999, a jury found Bradford not guilty on two charges of partner assault, and was unable to reach a verdict on the third, but found him guilty of two felony assault charges for the knife incidents. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
After he was sentenced, Bradford filed a motion for a new trial, alleging that his trial attorney had failed to investigate a letter that an acquaintance of Bradford’s had sent him after his arrest saying that Brown had admitted to lying about being assaulted by Bradford.
Moreover, Bradford claimed that several other acquaintances said that Brown had admitted she had lied.
At a hearing held on Bradford’s motion, witnesses described how Brown admitted she had lied.
“The way she told me at my kitchen table, is that he didn't do a damn thing, but she wanted to make it look like (he) did,” one witness said. “She said that he didn't even touch her with a knife.”
Another witness said that the couple had been arguing, and Brown thought Bradford was going to kick her out of the home they were sharing.
“She said that she was going to set Ty up,” the woman testified. “She told me that she lied because she didn't want all her stuff lost when she got kicked out.”
In 2003, Bradford’s conviction was vacated and he was granted a new trial.
At his second trial, Tammy Keunzel testified that Brown had lied about being assaulted by Bradford because Brown feared that Bradford would discover she had stolen money from him. In July 2003, a jury acquitted Bradford and he was released.