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Gregory man tells DCI he shook infant son before death

Levi Bruns1 / 2
Adam Bruns2 / 2

GREGORY -- A 20-year-old Gregory man is accused of shaking his 3-month-old son so hard that the infant died from the resulting injuries.

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Adam Joel Bruns is charged with alternate counts of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, as well as alternate counts of aggravated assault and child abuse. He was indicted by a Gregory County grand jury Friday, according to a news release issued Tuesday by the South Dakota Attorney General's Office and Gregory County State's Attorney Amy Bartling.

Second-degree murder, the most serious charge, carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison upon conviction.

Erik Person, the superintendent at the school in Burke, where Bruns formerly attended, said people in the area are heartbroken by the incident.

"It's just devastating," Person said in an interview Tuesday with The Daily Republic. "It's sad. Everybody is saddened by it."

According to an affidavit prepared Feb. 26 by Jason Jares, an agent with the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, included among court documents filed last week, Bruns told investigators he was taking care of his 3-month-old son, Levi Bruns, on Feb. 25 and that the child had been vomiting periodically for several days, which frustrated Bruns.

At about 12:15 p.m. that same day, the affidavit says the infant threw up while sitting in a swing at Bruns' residence and when Bruns pulled his son out of the swing, the boy's head shook back and forth multiple times.

Bruns, who told investigators he was frustrated at the time, admitted he shook his son approximately six to eight times, the affidavit says. Bruns then changed his son's diaper and placed him in a crib, but soon noticed the boy was unresponsive and that his eyes had rolled back in his head, the affidavit says.

Bruns wrapped the infant in a blanket and ran to the hospital in Gregory, which was about a block and a half away, the affidavit says. The 3-month-old did not have a pulse and had irregular breathing when he first arrived at the hospital, but responded to CPR and began to improve. The 3-month-old was later transferred to a hospital in Sioux Falls.

On Feb. 26, Jares, the DCI agent, was made aware of medical test results that showed the infant had suffered a brain hemorrhage and severe retinal hemorrhages in both eyes, the affidavit says.

The boy died March 2 at a children's hospital in St. Paul, Minn., according to a death notice published on Page A6 of Tuesday's edition of The Daily Republic. The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Gregory.

Bruns, who is in custody at the jail in Winner with bond set at $50,000, was served with a copy of the indictment Tuesday morning, said Bartling, the Gregory County state's attorney, in an interview with The Daily Republic.

Bruns made his initial court appearance Tuesday morning, at which he requested a new judge be assigned to the case, Bartling said. His next court date has not yet been scheduled.

The investigation is being conducted by the DCI and the Gregory County Sheriff's Office.

Bruns' past includes at least one other notable run-in with the law.

In 2011, Bruns was charged with grand theft and receiving a stolen vehicle, both felonies, and unauthorized use of a vehicle, a misdemeanor, after he and another man were arrested in Las Vegas for their involvement in the theft of a car from the Burke High School parking lot.

Bruns later pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of a vehicle and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 34 days suspended and credit for 56 days served.