Commonwealth v. Paul Stephen Bricker; Manslaughter of Navy Chief Draws 5 Years

Monday, August 06, 2012

Harvey L. Bryant, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, announced today that Paul Stephen Bricker, age 27, was sentenced by Circuit Court Judge H. Thomas Padrick for Voluntary Manslaughter. Judge Padrick sentenced Bricker to ten (10) years in prison with five (5) years suspended, leaving five (5) years to serve. Bricker pled guilty on April 4, 2012.

Had this matter gone to trial, the Commonwealth’s evidence would have proved that on July 30, 2009, Navy Chief Gerard Curran was reported missing to the police by his wife.  That day, his car was located at First Landing State Park in the City of Virginia Beach, with his wallet and other personal property inside.  His body was found inside the park a few days later.  He had a stab wound to the chest, but no weapon was recovered. 


The death was investigated thoroughly for over a year by the Virginia Beach Police Department and Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). Paul Stephen Bricker, a Navy sailor known to Curran, was developed as a suspect in the death.  Bricker was questioned, and then arrested, by authorities on August 26, 2010. Bricker told investigators that Curran wanted to commit suicide but wanted to ensure his family would receive his government benefits after his death.  He asked Bricker to assist in his death.  Bricker admitted that he had met Curran at First Landing State Park, where Mr. Curran said, “Let’s get this over with.”  Bricker observed Curran wrap a physical therapy band around his neck, choking himself until he collapsed.  Bricker waited a few minutes then stabbed Curran in the chest.  He then took the band and the knife and left the park, with Curran dead on the ground. 


The investigation established that there was no animosity between Curran and Bricker, nor any monetary benefit to Bricker for the crime. At no point did Bricker seek help for Curran or report his suicidal thoughts. 


Before pronouncing his sentence, Judge Padrick told Bricker, “You allowed the chief to do what he did, and then you stabbed him. No one has the right to take another’s life.”


This case was prosecuted by Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Patrick J. Connolly and Senior Commonwealth’s Attorney S. Catherine Dodson.  Please contact Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.