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Murder trial delayed for seven months

BURKE -- A murder trial in Gregory County has been delayed for seven months as the number of expert witnesses grows. A jury trial for Adam Bruns, 23, of Gregory, was originally scheduled for two weeks in March. But it was moved to October and Nov...

BURKE - A murder trial in Gregory County has been delayed for seven months as the number of expert witnesses grows.

A jury trial for Adam Bruns, 23, of Gregory, was originally scheduled for two weeks in March. But it was moved to October and November and extended to four weeks.

Bruns' attorney, Tim Rensch, of Rapid City, said the state and defense needed additional time to accommodate more experts.

"It was really a joint thing," Rensch said. "It's better to have more time than not enough."

Bruns is charged with second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree manslaughter, aggravated assault with indifference to human life and cruelty to a minor, stemming from an incident on Feb. 25, 2014, in Gregory that led to the death of his 3-month-old son, Levi Bruns.

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Bruns told law enforcement Levi's head shook back and forth as he lifted Levi out of a swing and then allegedly admitted "he might have shaken Levi approximately six to eight times," court documents state.

Second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter are punishable upon conviction by life in prison.

The state has submitted 17 exhibits, most of which are medicine-related such as doctors' curriculum vitaes, observational studies and reports regarding head trauma. Two exhibits were pulled from the case of South Dakota v. Joseph Patterson, who was convicted of killing the 2-year-old son of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Fifteen of the exhibits were submitted in response to the defense's motion for a Daubert hearing, in which a judge assesses the validity of expert witnesses' testimonies.

"It's a gatekeeping function to make sure that you don't have junk science in the courtroom," Rensch said. "I would say that's pretty standard."

Judge Mark Barnett reviewed the synopses of the state's witness testimonies and denied the motion.

The state can add witnesses until March 1. Then the defense is given the witnesses' opinions to create counter arguments.

Gregory County State's Attorney Amy Bartling did not return calls for comment.

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A motion for Bruns' release until the trial was also denied earlier this month. Rensch requested Bruns be released to live with his uncle, Russell Bruns, in Rapid City, where Bruns was living before violating probation in August.

In Judge Mark Barnett's order denying the defendant's motion for release, Barnett said the denial was due to Bruns' two probation violations, alcohol and substance abuse issues, lack of maturity and the pressure of potentially being convicted of a serious crime.

"A death has occurred, and there is a distinct possibility that the defendant could be convicted of homicide of some type," Barnett said in the order.

Bruns' bond was revoked on Aug. 25 for drinking beer away from his home, a violation of 24/7 sobriety program rules and his house arrest, which were ordered as pieces of his probation. Bruns was taken to Winner Jail.

Bruns first violated probation on Oct. 7, 2014, by using marijuana, court documents state.

Unless another motion for release is approved, Bruns will remain in custody until his trial begins on Oct. 24. Rensch said he has not decided whether or not he will motion again for release.

Related Topics: CRIME
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