Damaging winds, tornadoes possible Friday

Colonial Heights man who bludgeoned elderly couple to death sentenced

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. – The man convicted of murdering an elderly couple who had previously opened their home to him was sentenced Friday to life in jail.

Matthew Brady received two life sentences for the murders of Mr. and Mrs. Bland, and the sentences will run consecutively. He was also given 25 years for each of the two counts of robbery, and those sentences will run concurrently.

The judge commented that this case involved the greatest level of savagery and brutality he had witnessed in any murder cases he had handled. He referred to them as brutal, savage and shocking, and found that they deserved an upward departure from the sentencing guidelines, which recommended a range of sentence from 30 years and 5 months to 50 years and 8 months in prison.

Joseph Bland, 84, and his 80-year-old wife Evelyn were found “bludgeoned” to death inside their Conduit Road Home on January 21, 2011. They were both killed by blunt force trauma to the head.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney said that Brady struck Mr. Bland on the head at least 17 times, and struck Mrs. Bland three times.

A week after the bodies were discovered, Brady, 27 at the time, was arrested and charged in the murders. He lived close by, and prosecutors said he studied their comings and goings.

Joseph Bland, 84, and his 80-year-old wife Evelyn were found "bludgeoned" to death inside their Conduit Road Home

Joseph Bland, 84, and his 80-year-old wife Evelyn were found “bludgeoned” to death inside their Conduit Road Home

The couple had an alarm on the house, but on the day of their death, they ran in to get Evelyn’s purse and left the door open.

That’s when Brady struck, at nine in the morning.

On Friday, Brady sat quietly during the entire hearing.

A large group of his family members were in attendance, as were the Blands — who attended every hearing and trial involving the case.

One of Brady’s family members spoke to a CBS 6 reporter, and said this whole thing is tough on everyone. He added that they too are looking for “some finality” with this case.

Four detectives from Colonial Heights, who all worked the Bland case in some manner, testified at the sentencing.

The prosecutors questioned them about different details of the investigation that pointed to Brady as the main suspect. They had received information that other people may have been involved, but the officers testified it all turned out to be false.

A longtime neighbor of the Blands said they were “liked and respected in the neighborhood.”

Ronnie Robertson said he thinks the neighborhood is rattled by the murder, “still scared” nearly five years after the murders.

Joe Bland Jr., the son, said in his testimony that his parents were the centerpiece of the family. He said that since the murder, four great grandkids have been born they will never see.

He added that his family has seen a counselor to work through their grief

“Not a day goes by when we don’t think about them,” he said, and choked up. “Another holiday has come; they missed it.”

Lisa Bland Pittman, their daughter, took the stand last.

“Memories that come with photos come with memories of what happened to them,” she said.

She added that “faith and family” have gotten them through this.

She brought her dad’s calendar from 2011 to the courtroom, in chilling testimony. It already had appointments in it for November, though they were murdered 10 months before, in January.

Prosecutors said they had 10 victim impact statements submitted to the court, but they could have gotten many more.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.