A man was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for attacking a Virginia store clerk with a hammer, leaving him paralyzed.
Bryan Pedroza was an 18-year-old clerk at the Polo store at Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets when he was attacked July 28, 2015.
“[The attack] quite literally made every aspect of my life more difficult. I struggle day to day. Every day is a battle,” Pedroza said outside the courthouse Wednesday.
Video shows Bradford Cellucci enter the store and walk around for about 20 minutes until Pedroza approaches and asks if he needs a fitting room.
“He was opening up a fitting room door to allow this person he thought was just a customer to go into the fitting room, and the next thing he knew, he felt the pain in his neck and dropped to the ground,” Loudoun County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Shamis previously said of the attack.
"To this day, I continue to struggle and, unfortunately, it’s something that’s gonna follow me for the rest of my life,” Pedroza said.
Cellucci fled, leaving Virginia that night.
Investigators tracked him down in Texas in 2018.
While Cellucci was on the run, Pedroza and his mother struggled to get by.
"We lost our home. We were basically living in the hospital, eating hospital food. Once our resources for the hospital expired we were forced to leave, no home, no job. So, we moved to Texas, where we lived in a garage for about a month until we managed to find an affordable house,” Pedroza said.
Cellucci left the hammer in the store, and advanced forensic testing revealed his DNA was on the handle. Investigators also learned Pedroza had dated a woman Cellucci was seeing, and Cellucci planned the attack as an act of revenge on her behalf.
“He was an 18-year-old kid when this happened, and barring some miracle of modern medical science, he’s never going to walk again,” Shamis said. “He’s paralyzed; he’s been paralyzed since the day this happened.”
In January, Cellucci entered an Alford plea — not admitting guilt but conceding the evidence is strong enough to convict him.