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Suspect arraigned in murder of Fountain Theatre producer-director Ben Bradley

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Ben Bradley photo courtesy of The Fountain Theatre

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The LA Weekly reported today that Jose Fructuoso, 25, has been arraigned in Superior Court on one charge of murder in connection to the Jan. 2nd death of Fountain Theatre producer-director Bennett “Ben” Bradley, 59. The Los Angeles Times and The Daily News both reported earlier this week that Fructuoso had been arrested on Jan. 4th in connection with Bradley’s death.

Evidence had been found that connected Fructuoso to the murder. Although he pled “not guilty” at the arraignment, police say that he had confessed to the crime during an interview with detectives. Fructuoso is being held downtown at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in lieu of $1 million bail. A hearing has been set for Jan. 21st to determine if enough evidence exists for a trial.

Police were called to Bradley’s Koreatown apartment last Saturday by a Fountain Theatre stage manager who had gone there to check on him when he failed to show up for a scheduled rehearsal and did not return phone calls. She discovered his brutally stabbed body and called 911. The disheveled state of the apartment at first led police to suspect robbery as a motive, but it has now been established that Fructuoso and Bradley knew each other. Capt. Matt Blake, commanding officer of LAPD's Olympic Station, was quoted in The Daily News as saying that the two men had a “romantic relationship.”

Bradley was in the midst of rehearsals for the west coast premiere of Ifa Bayeza’s The Ballad of Emmett Till. He was directing the fact-based play about the murder of an African-American teenager whose death was a spark for the civil rights movement. Emmett Till is part of the Fountain Theatre’s 20th anniversary season of shows.

Bradley’s family plans to bury him in Baltimore. A Los Angeles memorial service is being planned by the Fountain Theatre, but details have not yet been announced. The Fountain has also established a memorial fund to help offset costs related to Bradley’s death, and, as a means of honoring him, to fund the development of new plays. Donation details are available at www.fountaintheatre.com/BenBradleyMemorialPage.htm.

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