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Middleburg man arrested in 2017 hit-and-run death of Jacksonville father

Joseph Wooten charged with DUI manslaughter, leaving scene of deadly crash

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Middleburg man was arrested Wednesday in connection with the April 2017 hit-and-run death of a Jacksonville father of three, authorities said.

Joseph Wayne Wooten, 28, is charged with DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of a deadly crash.  

According to the Clay County Sheriff's Office, Wooten was arrested on an active warrant out of Duval County Wednesday afternoon at Big Dawgs Sports Grill on Blanding Boulevard, where he works. 

Wooten was booked Thursday morning into the Duval County jail, where he was ordered held on $175,00 bond. 

On the evening of April 20, 2017, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, 29-year-old Bradley Kirk was walking home from the grocery store on the shoulder of West Beaver Street -- near Whitehouse Baptist Church on Jacksonville's Westside -- when he was fatally struck by a blue Chevy Equinox.

Troopers said the driver left the scene, but the SUV was found about 12 hours after the crash in a neighborhood about 2 miles away.

Evidence at the scene led investigators to issue a warrant for Wooten. That's when the Kirk family decided it would take matters into its own hands to find the suspect.

Sofia Kirk, Kirk's mother, told News4Jax on Friday that ever since the warrant was issued, she had been on the lookout for Wooten. 

Then, a Facebook post led the family to the Clay County restaurant where the suspect worked. Sofia Kirk's other son spotted Wooten at the restaurant and called his mother, who then called police -- leading to the arrest.

Bradley Kirk was a father of three children. His youngest child was 1 year old at the time of his death. 

"It's really hard for us to get up every morning to go to work and knowing that he’s not there. We didn’t get to see his smile or his blue eyes," Sofia Kirk said. "I actually have a tape recording on my phone that I play and I listen to his voice. So it’s, like, extremely hard to know he’s not here."

The arrest has started to bring the closure that Bradley Kirk's family had been praying for after his death more than a year ago.

"Now, because we did get him, there’s a big relief and there's going to be justice for Bradley," Sofia Kirk said. "That’s the main thing because, I personally, the day that I said goodbye to my son and I held him and kissed him in his casket I promised him that I would get justice for him and that I would take care of his children and that’s a promise a mother always keeps."

While nothing will bring her son back, Sofia Kirk said, she is grateful to God that Wooten is finally behind bars.

"I said last (year) that he’s a monster, and I will live up to that because, you know what, this person is a monster," she said. "Any human being should’ve stopped and at least try to help him and stay with him no matter what the consequences were going to be."

Wooten will appear before a judge on Aug. 16. Sofia Kirk said she will be there, and hopes to see justice for her son.


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