MUSKOGEE, Okla. — It started as a joke and ended with a life taken too soon.
Now, a Muskogee mother is working to keep her son’s memory alive more than a year after he was killed.
An outdoorsman who was gentle and kind. That’s how Brandy Wheeler wants people to remember her son, Bradley Dillon.
“It’s like a nightmare that you can’t wake up from because no matter what I do, he’ll never be back," Wheeler said.
19-year-old Bradley was killed in the early hours of Oct. 19, 2020, but it feels like just yesterday for Wheeler.
She smiled as she remembered their last conversation.
“I told him it was late and that he needed to get in bed," Wheeler said. "And he said, 'I’m going to mom, you know, I’m going to go.' I said ‘Are you sure? You know because I can’t go to sleep without knowing that you’re okay.’ And he assured me everything was okay."
Just a few hours later, Wheeler pounding on her door woke her up. It was Bradley’s friend telling her Bradley had been shot.
Earlier that night, Bradley and his friend went to a casino. Brandy said they were overheard on the phone talking about winning $10,000.
That’s when authorities say Kevin Jackson, now 20 years old, created a plan to rob Bradley and his friend. The two were invited to a house where Jackson was at.
“When he pulled in a guy met him with a gun and got him out of the car at gunpoint and led him inside and made him empty his pockets," Wheeler said.
Except Bradley and his friend were joking. They actually won very little.
Wheeler said they were going to take Jackson to an ATM when Bradley’s friend escaped. Bradley was then shot multiple times.
“He would have given him whatever he wanted," Wheeler said. "Really he would have. You know, he didn’t have to shoot him.”
A federal jury recently found Jackson guilty of murder in Indian country along with robbery and firearm offenses, giving Wheeler some closure.
“I feel as much justice that the law allows," Wheeler said. "And God’s the final judge.”
But with the trial now over, Wheeler isn’t sure where to go from here. She will help Bradley’s memory live on, but nothing will take away the pain of losing her son.
“I’ll never see him again," Wheeler said. "I’ll never hear him say mom or anything. Never get to see his face and his sweet smile and hear his laugh.”
Jackson’s sentencing hasn’t been scheduled yet, but he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
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