Baton Rouge rapper Steven "Future" Bradley was sentenced to 35 years behind bars Tuesday for his role in the deaths of a Reserve couple who were tossed off the Interstate 510 bridge in New Orleans East while they were alive and tethered to heavy weights. 

A jury acquitted Bradley last week of murder charges — which carry a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment — but convicted him of obstructing justice and conspiring to obstruct justice in the slayings of Kenneth and Lakeitha Joseph.

Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Benedict Willard handed out the 35-year sentence for the obstruction charge, with a 15-year sentence for the conspiracy charge to be served concurrently. 

But Bradley may still face a harsher punishment. 

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Guillory filed a motion Tuesday to lengthen Bradley's sentence under Louisiana's habitual-offender law, citing his prior convictions for dealing cocaine and Ecstasy, as well as attempted armed robbery and monetary instrument abuse. If the motion is successful at a hearing set for Feb. 9, Bradley could end up in prison for 40 years to life.

Bradley, 32, was the second defendant convicted in connection with the brutal murders.

In August, a jury found Horatio Johnson guilty of all charges, including murder, and he is serving a life sentence. 

The victims' families on Tuesday declined to speak at the sentencing hearing. 

Bradley, however, submitted a letter to the judge in which he mentioned his three daughters, acknowledged he'd made some mistakes and asked for a second chance, according to his attorney, Leon Roche. 

Willard chose not to read it, saying to Roche, "Tell (Bradley) to write the family." 

Prosecutors argued at the trial that Johnson and Amir "Blue" Ybarra worked together to attack the Josephs at a Metairie recording studio in February 2014 for reasons that have never been made clear. They then tossed the couple off the I-510 bridge between New Orleans East and Chalmette while the victims were alive.

The Josephs' bloated bodies surfaced days later, tied with nylon rope to 30-pound kettlebells.

Police later recovered video of Johnson and his ex-girlfriend, Brittany Martin, purchasing the rope and exercise weights at a Walmart in Kenner.

They also found the Josephs' Dodge Caravan — which went missing after the couple's disappearance — in Atlanta. A man named Frank Mike ultimately confessed to driving the minivan to Atlanta to try to get rid of it.

Mike said Bradley, whom he described as his protégé, told him that he had pulled off a "move" with the van and hit a woman in the head with a weight. That testimony supported statements from Martin, who said she saw Bradley inside the recording studio with the Josephs the night they died.

She also described seeing Bradley and Ybarra loading what were presumed to be the Josephs into the back of the van.

Roche countered that no video or physical evidence tied Bradley to the crime. He also challenged the trustworthiness of Mike and Martin, noting that they had cut plea deals for themselves. 

At one point during the seven-day trial, Roche called Johnson and Martin a "modern-day Bonnie and Clyde" who killed the Josephs without help from his client. At most, Roche argued, Bradley was an accessory after the fact. 

There was debate during the trial over whether Bradley's admission to police that he asked Mike to get rid of the van indicated he knew the couple had been killed.

The jury's decision Dec. 12 to acquit Bradley of murder but find him guilty of obstructing justice and conspiring to obstruct justice apparently showed that jurors believed Bradley was aware of what had happened to the Josephs but that he did not have a hand in the killings. 

On Monday, Willard denied a motion for a new trial filed by Roche.

Martin has pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice but has not yet been sentenced. Ybarra remains at large. 

Roche objected to the punishment imposed Tuesday but said later that it would at least afford his client a chance at parole, something a murder conviction would have ruled out. 

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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