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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Julie King is escorted to the DeKalb County Courthouse on Monday for sentencing on aiding attempted murder, one of three charges she faced in the Dec. 15, 2011, shooting of Waterloo Deputy Marshal Steve Brady.

38 years for tragedy

Sentence for aiding attempted murder of Waterloo officer

Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Julie King was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the shooting of Waterloo Deputy Marshal Steve Brady. King still faces robbery charges in Michigan.

Julie Marie King took her first sip of alcohol at the age of 13, and by 30 she was ingesting methamphetamines on a daily basis.

Ralph Hardiek also took methamphetamines, was due to be sentenced to prison and dreamed of dying at the hands of police.

Steve Brady’s mother was murdered when he was 6 years old, but instead of falling into an abyss of anger and resentment, he became a police officer.

On a cold and rainy morning in December 2011, all three of these people’s paths crossed at the intersection of Railroad and Center streets in Waterloo.

The results were violent: One was killed; the two others were mentally and physically scarred forever.

Monday they met again – two face to face; the other as a specter on a nearly two-year-old video recording.

Their histories, motives and wounds would be put on full display during King’s sentencing hearing in DeKalb Superior Court on one count of aiding attempted murder, a charge for which she had previously pleaded guilty.

At the end of it, a sobbing and remorseful 34-year-old King would be hauled away in shackles and handcuffs, sentenced to 38 years in prison.

Sorry, she said, for playing a role that got Steve Brady shot in the face and nearly killed.

History of criminal activity

Ralph Hardiek, 41, did not want to go to prison.

He had been convicted of a drug crime, but instead of jail he wanted to commit suicide by police officer. Even better, he said, he’d set himself on fire and meditate on the DeKalb County Courthouse lawn.

It’d be just like a Vietnamese monk who burned himself to death in Saigon in the 1960s and whose image became immortalized in famous photographs.

During King’s sentencing hearing Monday, prosecutors played a video, presumably shot by King, of Hardiek saying these things to the camera.

The video, found on a digital camera in King’s car, was taken two weeks before they meet Steve Brady.

Hardiek and King, both of whom were steep into a methamphetamine addiction, hatched a plan shortly after the video is recorded:

He’d ditch his sentencing hearing and the pair would rob houses for money until they had enough cash to get to Utah.

“Ralph was a very aggressive sort of individual, I guess especially under methamphetamines,” said Hardiek’s wife, Cassie Hardiek, in court Monday. “He was a very persuasive individual, a very persuasive man.”

The plan set off a chain of events that would bring them to Brady in Waterloo days later, on Dec. 15.

Hardiek and King took her car to New Haven, where they spent all the money they had on ammunition, including bullets for a .44-caliber handgun.

King bought the ammo since Hardiek was a convicted felon, committing a federal crime herself, according to court testimony.

They then headed to Michigan.

There, the pair robbed at least two homes. In one of the robberies, one of them struck a man over the head with a sawed-off shotgun.

In another, King ordered another man into a basement at gunpoint.

It’s unclear what prosecutors there will do, but King still faces robbery charges in that state.

After the robberies, they stayed with a friend. They asked that friend to help file off the trigger guards of their guns so they could be shot more easily.

Traveling with guns

After Michigan, King and Hardiek traveled with at least five guns in the car.

They also had zip ties, rope, knives and a book called “The Antichrist.” They were also using methamphetamines.

“If I never used drugs, we wouldn’t be here right now,” King said Monday.

At some point before 3 a.m., the couple abandoned King’s car in northern Waterloo and went out into the night on foot.

The couple knocked on the door of a home and said they needed help getting their car freed from the mud. That woman declined to help, but later told Brady at a gas station about the encounter.

At first, a younger officer with hardly any experience at the time drove by the area looking for them, but the couple eluded him, according to court testimony.

Brady, Waterloo’s deputy town marshal and a veteran officer, then made a round in the area and spotted the couple walking. He stopped to ask if they needed help.

“I believe it’s nothing short of a miracle that I have the capabilities I do and that I’m alive today,” Brady said in court Monday.

Under fire

There was no immediate pain, only the flowing of blood from his mouth and the inability to talk clearly. The blood is how Steve Brady knew he was hurt.

And bad.

He radioed for help, a mishmash of words that made it sound like his mouth was full of … something, fellow officer Deputy Aaron Long testified Monday.

What happened would be pieced together later:

While Brady talked with King, Hardiek pulled a .44-caliber Special handgun and fired into the officer’s face at point-blank range.

Long was one of the first officers to find Brady, lying near his squad car at the intersection of Center and Railroad streets.

Brady had trained Long when he first started as a police officer, just as he trained “about every other cop” in the area.

An avid hunter, he knew Brady’s wound was a gunshot right away. He stripped off his shirt and bulletproof vest, then the long underwear shirt he was wearing.

He pressed it onto Brady’s face, trying to stop the bleeding. Long’s dash cam, played in court Monday, recorded everything he said to the fallen officer.

“Steve … Steve … Hey, man, stay with me,” he said. “Can you hear me? Stay right with me, bro. No matter what.”

Long went on to talk ask Brady about his Christmas shopping, anything to keep the wounded man’s eyes open. He also told him he was shot.

“I want every (expletive) cop you can find up here,” Long yelled into his radio at one point. “We’re going to find the son of (expletive).”

And then he went right back to Steve, who on the video groaned with what he later said was indescribable pain:

“We’re going to get them, Steve.”

While the video plays, King cries for the first time during Monday’s hearing.

While he testifies, Long cries, too.

Mental toll

The bullet fractured his jaw in three places.

It took away 25 percent of the peripheral vision one eye and so much hearing in one ear that he now wears a hearing aid.

It took surgeries that placed titanium plates in his face and rehabilitation, but nearly a year later Steve Brady returned to work as a deputy marshal for Waterloo.

But even today he’s not the same.

He suffers from severe headaches. He cannot move his jaw like a normal person, and has to perform stretches with it every day.

That’s not to mention the mental toll, Brady said, which he did not delve into during testimony Monday.

“The process left little semblance of what I or my family know of a normal life,” he said.

He talked of losing his mother to murder as a little boy, and how he still harbored no resentment toward King for what she and Hardiek did.

Still, he said in a written statement he was disappointed with a world full of people who are downplaying their accountability.

Afterward, he sat and listened to King, who began to read a prepared statement she wrote in jail. A few paragraphs in, she put down her notes. She went off script.

Hiding from police

The tears rolled down King’s face and onto her lap. Some of them clung to the strands of hair that hid part of her face as her head hung.

“Please believe me, you don’t have to, but I never tried to distract you so that Ralph could shoot you,” she said to Brady on Monday.

“I know words will never ever cover it, I know they will never explain how sorry I am,” she continued. “I want to thank you for your service to law enforcement. I wish I would’ve stayed by your side.”

“I’m so sorry,” she said.

King’s defense attorney, Dan Pappas, recounted her history of drug addiction – which began at 13 and included a smorgasbord of narcotics – and previous work for a church as reasons her sentence should be lightened.

And, he said, she was under the influence of Hardiek, as well.

As part of King’s plea agreement with DeKalb County prosecutors, she’d receive a 45-year prison sentence but the executed time a judge could give her would be capped at 38 years.

Pappas asked for 30.

DeKalb County Prosecutor ClaraMary Winebrenner, though, said King had many chances to give up and get away from Hardiek.

Those moments included the ones where Brady approached, them, or even immediately after the shooting, when King and Hardiek made their way to the back porch of a home two blocks away.

The two hid there while Brady languished on the ground and a massive manhunt began for the two.

Later that morning, officers and a police SWAT unit descended on the porch when the home’s resident called them about people hiding there.

Police ordered King and Hardiek out, but they remained silent and underneath the porch in an embrace. Eventually, an Indiana State Police detective spotted a gun.

Later, police would say Hardiek had a handgun. Inside King’s car, police found three other guns.

Monday in court, an officer testified that King had one under the porch, as well. Neither she nor Hardiek dropped their weapons.

“It wasn’t just the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Winebrenner during Monday’s hearing. “She did some serious aiding. She did everything but pull the trigger.”

The bullets ripped into King and Hardiek.

King suffered 14 shots to her body. Some of her fingers were blown away. She was taken to a hospital in critical condition and treated in a room in the same hallway as Brady.

Hardiek died.

Making life choices

Dan Pappas argued Monday that it wouldn’t be right for his client to be sentenced to 38 years in prison.

Judge Monte Brown said it wouldn’t be wrong, either.

In a pre-sentence report, King told court authorities nearly 50 percent of her friends have criminal records.

She also told them of becoming an alcoholic before she graduated high school and of the boyfriends and husband who fueled her methamphetamine habit to the point where she lost custody of her daughter.

“Julie, life is full of choices. We make them every day,” Brown told King. “You have a propensity to make bad ones every time you have to make one.”

Brown gave King the maximum 38 years in prison the plea agreement allowed. He granted her 487 days as credit for time served as her case wound its way through the legal system.

If she’s good, Brown said Monday, she could be out in 19 years.

King’s chest heaved as she heard the sentence and her mouth quivered. Her defense team comforted her as the courtroom emptied.

Afterward, the two people who survived that fateful encounter on the outskirts of Waterloo left the courtroom in different ways.

Brady walked out with his wife, also a law enforcement officer, by his side.

He’ll have plenty of time to focus on his scars – both physical and mental – on a daily basis as he heads back to work.

King left in chains, escorted to her temporary home at the DeKalb County Jail.

Her next stop is an Indiana Department of Corrections prison cell – four walls and a lot of time to think.

Time to think about the scars she’s incurred and those that she’s inflicted.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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