A Florida judge sentenced Gardner Kent Fraser to one year in jail for the shooting death of 31-year-old Dominic ‘DJ’ Broadus in 2018. The sentence isn’t for murder, however, it’s for tampering with evidence.
After fatally shooting Dominic, Fraser, the son of a former Sheriff Deputy, removed his phone from the scene. Investigators never recovered the phone, but they did find 115 phone calls and 35 text messages between the men. Dominic’s father claims Fraser killed his son to hide their sexual relationship.
“In an effort to try and keep his secret, he fatally shot my son in the back of the head twice and tried to destroy any evidence of their relationship by deleting all text from his phone and destroying/hiding my son’s phone, then calling three people before reporting the shooting to the proper authorities,” DJ’s father, Dominic Broadus Sr. said during a court proceeding on Monday (January 25).
Fraser’s legal team used the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law to defend his actions. According to the law, a person who is accused of killing someone doesn’t have the “duty to retreat,” defense attorneys don’t even have to prove their client acted in self-defense. After a 2017 ruling, prosecutors are now required to prove that the person being accused was not acting in fear for their life.
Because of the law, the state’s attorney could only get Fraser on the evidence tampering charge.
State Attorney Mark Caliel told Judge James Colaw, “This defendant took the actions to get rid of that phone. To this day, only one person knows where DJ Broadus’ phone is. That’s Garner Fraser.” Judge Colaw handed Fraser the maximum sentence for evidence tampering, saying his actions were a “coverup.”
Fraser’s connection to the Baker County Sheriff's office is troubling too, as local authorities had to turn over their investigation to the state after it was discovered that the first deputy to arrive on the scene of the murder knew Fraser’s father, Ryan T. Fraser.
According to a report by Michael Harriot of The Root, the Frasers have a network of relatives working in law enforcement in the area. Ryan Fraser was able to get another job at the Baker County Jail, where he retired from in 2017.
Evidence in the trial against Gardner shows in the 21 minutes between shooting Dominic and calling 911, Gardner called his father, though there’s no proof indicating that Ryan helped his son remove evidence from the scene.
The report from the outlet also shows that the area’s Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard during the 1950s was a man named J.E. Fraser. He passed down his business, Southern States Nurseries down to his family, the same place Dominic Broadus was killed.
“I don’t know how this guy gets away with not being charged with murder,” Dominic Broadus, Sr. said following the trial. “I’m not happy with everything [the state attorney’s office] has done. I’m not happy with the laws of the state of Florida. Like I said, the evidence is there, which clearly shows this was murder, and you can probably even call it premeditated.”
He said their family, including Dominic Jr.’s son, “pray” they will eventually get justice.
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