GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A man sentenced to life in prison without parole made another plea to a Gwinnett County judge Tuesday, hoping to win a new trial.
“Most nights I sleep, I cry myself to sleep to this day. It just hurts. It’s like you want this pain to stop,” said Sandeep “Sonny” Bharadia while on the witness stand.
Bharadia has always maintained his innocence. Still, a jury found him guilty of aggravated sodomy and sexual battery, as well as burglary. He has been in prison for more than 20 years now, on a sentence of life without parole.
“I did everything I’m supposed to do. I provided everything I’m supposed to provide. And that’s all I can do,” said Bharadia.
Bharadia has filed several failed motions for a new trial based in part on new DNA evidence he believes proves he did not commit the crime.
Now, attorneys with the Georgia Innocence Project are trying to prove Bharadia’s previous legal representation made critical mistakes, failing to provide him with effective counsel. For several hours, two of his previous attorneys were asked questions about missing evidence and conflicting statements to determine why they were not challenged.
Bharadia says he was in Stone Mountain at the time of the attack, more than 250 miles away from where a woman was attacked at knife-point near Savannah.
Listen to Bharadia's full statement below:
The woman told police the man that attacked her was wearing blue and white batting gloves. Those gloves, as well as a knife and some of the woman’s other belongings, were found inside Ashleigh Dold Brown's house, who was Sterling Flint's girlfriend at the time.
Flint told police he was holding the items for Bharadia. He pled guilty to theft by receiving stolen property and agreed to testify against Bharadia in relation to the sexual assault. Attorneys say no physical evidence tied Bharadia to the crime.
It wasn’t until years later, as DNA testing technology evolved, that the batting gloves were tested. Bharadia’s DNA was not found on the gloves, but the skin cells left on the gloves did match Sterling Flint.
After the hearing, Georgia Innocence Project Senior Attorney Christina Cribbs released a statement saying, “Sonny remains incarcerated today despite overwhelming evidence of innocence and DNA that identifies the actual perpetrator, because of procedural problems in the investigation, at trial, and post-conviction. We tried very hard today to ensure that the Court sees this and grants his petition. We know that Sonny is innocent and we won’t stop fighting for him until we can bring him home.”
A ruling by Judge Laura Tate isn’t expected for at least two months.