“Smile even on your darkest days.”
That quote from Shadé Adebayo was written on the back of the purple tee-shirts worn by the dozen, or so, friends and family in Montgomery County Circuit Court Thursday morning for the sentencing of Donald Wayne Bricker, Jr. for the fatal shooting death of 24-year-old Adebayo.
In an impassioned and blunt sentencing ruling Circuit Court Judge Joseph A. Duggan sentenced Donald Wayne Bricker, Jr. to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the cold-blooded murder of Mariam Folashade “Shadé” Adebayo in the parking lot of the Target Store in Germantown on June 1, 2015. On December 2, 2015, Bricker entered a guilty plea in Circuit Court in front of Judge Joseph Dugan and admitted to killing Adebayo.
“You absolutely positively are a violent person. You were a violent person when you snatched her life,” Judge Duggan told Bricker during his sentencing.
The sentencing hearing began with Bricker’s attorney, Allen Wolf, the District Public Defender asking Judge Duggan to rule on Bricker’s motion to not be present at his sentencing.
Duggan denied the motion saying, “Victims and victims’ family members and friends have the right to some form of closure. The defendant needs to be here to hear what he has been sentenced to and why. I am not going to allow you to not be present during sentencing.”
After the sentencing hearing, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy called Bricker a coward. “The defendant is a coward,” said McCarthy. “Only moments before Judge Duggan was going to tell him what his ultimate fate would be for the vicious crime — this vile act that he’d committed. He decided that he didn’t want to be in the courtroom anymore. He wanted to walk out. He wanted to be sentenced in absentia. He didn’t get to leave the courtroom. Judge Duggan, property made him stand there and listen to his sentence of life in prison without parole in his impassioned announcement of the sentence. This man who so callously ended this woman’s life, ultimately proved himself— in our courtroom here today to be a coward.”
During the sentencing, Assistant State’s Attorneys Deborah W. Feinstein and Cynthia Bridgeford spoke about how Bricker had premeditated Adebayo’s murder. Bridgeford spoke of Bricker’s circumventing Maryland gun laws to acquire the replica antique handgun used to kill Adebayo. Bricker, a convicted sex offender and could not legally purchase a firearm, so he used a loophole in the law to order a replica antique “black powder” gun online and had it delivered through the mail. The purchase of antique firearms and replicas of antique guns is not regulated.
She spoke of Bricker taking the time to test the firearm before going to meet Adebayo in the parking lot and shooting the gun at her three times.
Bridgeford played a surveillance video of the parking lot of the Target Store showing the events of the evening of June 1, 2015.
The video showed, what prosecutors said was, Adebayo leaving her vehicle, followed by Bricker. Bricker fired the gun in the direction of Adebayo. Due to the nature of the antique gun, each time the gun is fired a large cloud of smoke can be seen in the video. The video shows Adebayo falling to the ground after Bricker shot her in the back. It also shows Bricker walk up to Adebayo and shooting her again, this time in the face. Bricker then fled from the scene in a white, older model, Ford Ranger pickup truck.
In court, Bridgeford said that Bricker had many opportunities to reconsider his actions during the events in that parking lot. “Each step he took towards Shadé was another moment to stop and reconsider his actions.”
In an effort to receive a more lenient sentence, Bricker has been claiming that his original intention was to shoot himself not Adebayo.
“I don’t believe for one second, and the evidence does not support the idea that he was going to shoot himself,” said Bridgeford in court.
Bridgeford submitted a photo of the victim standing on the Baltimore waterfront with her arms outstretched and the signature Shadé smile. “I kept coming back to that picture,” said Bridgeford. “In that photo, you see a young woman with her arms open to the world and all its promise… that woman had her life ended in a brutal way.”
The victim’s mother, Cassandra Atkins addressed the court reading from a letter she had written to Judge Duggan urging for justice for her daughter. “Words cannot express the pain and anguish,” she said. “There will never be closure, but there will be justice.”
“Every time I lay my head down to rest I am held hostage by the visions of my daughter’s final moments. I haven’t slept and haven’t eaten,” said Shadé’s mother. “The line around my eyes are not wrinkles they are maps to the pain I have endured since she was taken from my life. I had two children, and in the blink of an eye I had one.”
"How dare you?” she cried at Bricker. “How dare you? I trusted you with my little girl. You decided to play the role of the Almighty. How dare you?”
Once the victim’s mother had finished, it was time for the defendant to address the court and show remorse and ask for leniency in sentencing.
Bricker stood and spoke for an hour in a rambling unrehearsed address which started with him saying, “I am very remorseful. I never meant to do what I did.” However, he never told the court or the victim’s family that he was sorry. He spoke of problems at home and his “hatred for the State” after his sex offense conviction and how he someday hope to see the outside of a prison. He told the court that he had changed, not since the shooting but since he attempted to take his own life while incarcerated back in February. “After coming close to my own death, I learned that I am here for a reason.” He spoke of the pain he feels knowing that he can do things that Shadé can no longer do. “Every time I do something I think about how she can’t do that. I still get to choose what I eat every day.”
Bricker said that he has become more social since being incarcerated. “I have more friends now that I ever had before prison.”
Bricker said he had apologized many times. “I am remorseful. I have apologized to the air, to God, to her while I am alone in my cell.” He rambled on for an hour at one point saying, “I feel like I am innocent of committing a crime” and “I feel like I am supposed to learn something from this.”
Eventually, Judge Duggan cut off Bricker’s rambling and ask him if there was anything else he might want to say, even suggesting that he consult with his attorney.
At that point, Bricker said he had nothing further to say, and Judge Duggan began his impassioned sentencing statement. “Mr. Bricker you just spoke for an hour and not once did you apologize to the mother of the young woman you killed. Not one time… Not one time did you apologize for taking her baby girl. I don’t see the remorse. You absolutely positively are a violent person. You were a violent person when you snatched her life,” said Judge Duggan.
Judge Duggan continued, “According to the police report, you saw the necklace and the rings you’d given her in her car as the two of you were talking, and you said, ‘I don’t like how this is, and you won’t like it either.’ You made sure of that when you shot her in the face.”
The Judge talked about the first gunshot in the car. “BOOM!!! If the sound of that first shot form the black power revolver in the confined space of the small car wasn’t enough to make you stop and think about what you were doing. I don’t think anything would have,” said Duggan.
“You wanted her to die. You premeditated that death,” said Duggan. The Judge said that court documents show that Bricker crawled over the center console of the car to follow Adebayo when she ran from the car after the first shot. Bricker followed her and shot her in the Torso.
“A third KABOOM. Right in her face. And you want me to show you some compassion? You told police, “I didn’t want her to feel pain. I turned the barrel of the gun and shot her in the face.’ Mr. Bricker, you had no way of knowing if she would have died from that first gunshot wound or not. You knew full well that if you shot her in the face, it would end her life. I hereby sentence you to the maximum penalty allowed in the State of Maryland, life in prison without the possibility of parole.”
The family and friends of Shadé Adebayo broke into applause in the courtroom as 30-year-old Donald Wanye Bricker, Jr. was led away to prison for the rest of his life.
Top: Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy address reporters surrounded by the prosecution team and friends and family of the victim, Shadé Adebayo.
Next: The victim, Shadé Adebayo.
Next: The victim’s mother Cassandra Atkins, on the right, the prosecutors, Assistant State’s Attorneys Deborah W. Feinstein and Cynthia Bridgeford, and her daughter Tiffany.
Next: Video of the surveillance camera at the Target parking lot. The white car in the upper right of the video will move forward, and the victim will run from the vehicle, followed by the killer.
Next: MCFRS ambulance at the scene in the parking lot of Target in the Milestone Shopping Center in Germantown where Shadé Adebayo was shot to death by Donald Wayne Bricker, Jr, on June 1, 2015.
Next: The victim's car as it was left in the parking lot on the night of the shooting.
Next: Donald Wayne Bricker, Jr.
Next: Police caution tape outside of the Target Store in Germantown.
Photos by Germantown Pulse. Video courtesy State’s Attorney’s Office.