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Missouri Supreme Court To Hear Bruner's Case - KOAM TV 7

Missouri Supreme Court To Hear Bruner's Case

Updated:
Derek Moore Derek Moore
JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Update September 16, 2016: The Missouri Supreme Court has agreed to hear Jeffrey Bruner's case in November. According to Bruner's defense, they are claiming the judge in the case should have allowed the jury to consider self defense. Currently, Bruner is serving life in prison without parole for the murder Derek Moore. 

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Update July 13, 2016: According to court proceedings, Bruner's request to have his 1st Degree Murder conviction removed. The decision was issued, 6-1 vote, by the Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals. 

Court Documents

Updated June 15, 2015:  Jeffrey Bruner sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for 1st degree murder. 5 years for armed criminal action.

Bruner Hearing Ankle Bracelet Removal Denied

MSSU's Statement Regarding Verdict

Witnesses at the theatre the night of the shooting

Jeffrey Bruner appeared today in Jasper County Circuit Court in front of judge Gayle Crane for a sentencing hearing.

Judge Gayle Crane sentenced Bruner to life in prison without the possibility of parole for first degree murder and to five years for armed criminal action.

In March a jury found Bruner guilty of first degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Missouri Southern assistant football coach, Derek Moore, outside a Joplin movie theater in November of 2013.

Before proceeding with the sentencing hearing, the prosecution called Derek Moore's mother to the stand.

She read a prepared statement in front of the court and discussed her son, Derek, and his young son, Elijah.

"I miss my son, but not as much as his son misses him," Moore's mother said about her son and grandson.

She also said her son was not a "mountain man" as he had been referred to twice during the trial and said her son deserved more respect.

Bruner sat emotionless and looked down at the table as Moore's mother read her statement and said that her son was "not a coward like the defendant."

Moore's mother called Bruner an "evil coward" and said, "The devil took over the defendant's soul."

She also said Bruner did not believe in divorce.

"There are much worse things in life than divorce - like murder," she said.

Moore's mother also said, "Derek is in a better place and always will be," and "I forgave the man that murdered my son."

She also said, "The defendant's choice was murder, but my choice was forgiveness."

The victim's brother told the court that Derek is one of the first things he thinks of after waking up and one of the last things he thinks about at night.

He also offered words about his brother's role as a Missouri Southern assistant football coach.

"He cared about those kids not just as football players but as men," he said.

The victim's brother also openly called Bruner a "coward."

"He showed no remorse for any of his actions," he said about Bruner.

The prosecution read a letter on behalf of Moore's son's mother.

In the letter, it said the day Derek was show was the "day the sparkle in Elijah's blue eyes dimmed."

Bruner addressed the family of the victim and said, "I don't show a lot of emotion publicly" but told the family he does so privately.

Bruner told Moore's family he prays for the victim's son and family every day and that he wishes he could repair the situation but knows he can't.

Bruner said he accepts all of the feelings the Moore family has toward him.

Bruner also said, in his quiet time by himself, he "feels pain and heartache."

After judge Gayle Crane sentenced Bruner to life in prison without the possibility of parole for first degree murder and to five years for armed criminal action, she asked Bruner if he felt he had been properly represented.

Bruner told the judge he had some concerns about the representation he received from his legal counsel.

The judge asked about those concerns, but Bruner was hesitant at first and said he could not think of his questions at the time.

As Bruner stood in front of the judge's bench, the judge told him, if he had any questions, now was the time to be asking them.

Bruner told the judge he had trouble with the way some things were done and that he would have liked strategies different from those chosen by his attorneys.

Bruner said he "reluctantly" went with their expertise and experience.

Prior to the sentencing, Bruner's attorneys asked for a retrial in the case.

The defense accused a juror of misconduct during the trial.

One witness, a family friend of Bruner who has known the defendant since the 1980s and who was present for most of the trial, testified that the juror was "mouthing words" during the trial.

That witness also said the jury member was nodding, learning forward and using facial expressions and other body language she deemed 'inappropriate.'

That witness also said she saw the juror agree with the prosecution.

A friend of Bruner's for 30 years who said he was in the courtroom every day of the trial said the juror was "distracting" and that she showed "emotional facial reactions" toward what was being shown or said.

The prosecution called today's testimony "contradictory" and "factually insufficient."

The court overruled the motion for a new trial.

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The following is a timeline of the four day trial and testimony from March of this year:

TRIAL DAY 1 - March 23, 2015

Jury selection began and wrapped up on March 23.

TRIAL DAY 2 - March 24, 2015

Testimony began in the trial of Jeffrey Bruner.

Was it first degree murder or self defense?

Bruner's family described him as a calm man but said he did have his moments when he would get very mad.

Bruner's daughter testified she and Bruner went to a McDonald's in Joplin, where she showed her father a Facebook picture of her mother, Bruner's estranged wife, with Derek Moore at the movie theater in Joplin.

Bruner decided to go to the movie theater to confront his wife and Moore.

Bruner's daughter testified that she found out about the shooting the same way she found out about her mom's date that night.

Prosecutors said that while Bruner was on his way to the Joplin movie theater, he first dropped off his daughter, Alexis.

The then-16-year-old Alexis testified in court that her father told her she probably would not want to see him shoot someone and said that she would not have a mom or a dad by the end of the night and that he was going to jail.

Alexis testified that Bruner texted her while he was at the movie theater and asked what type of clothes her mother was wearing.

Witnesses who were at the theater that night testified that Bruner shot Moore several times.

Prosecutors said that Moore's lung was bruised by the bullets, his diaphragm was torn, a majory artery was broken and that his spinal cord was damaged, leaving him paralyzed while dying.

Witnesses said, while Moore was not able to move, Bruner kicked him several times.

But Bruner's defense claimed Bruner felt Moore was reaching for a weapon and that Bruner shot in self-defense.

Bruner's defense claimed bruner had no intention of harming anyone.

The defense also said Bruner suffered a mental defect - acute stress disorder - from all of his wife's affairs.

Witnesses testified, after Bruner shot Moore, Bruner said, "They posted it all over Facebook. What's a guy supposed to do?"

Bruner's daughter testified in court she found out about the shooting from Facebook posts.

TRIAL DAY 3 - March 25, 2015

Jeffrey Bruner took the stand in his own defense.

On day three of the trial, Bruner testified to his state of mind when the shooting occurred.

Bruner denied the testimony of his very own daughter and said she may have misinterpreted how he joked, "It's not like I'm gonna kill the guy."

Bruner was on the stand for more than an hour and explained he was "hurt, angry and felt betrayed" by his estranged wife when he saw her in a Facebook post with Moore at the movies.

He repeatedly testified he just wanted to go to the theater to talk to his wife.

His explanation for taking two guns with him and an extra round of ammunition was that he grabbed them quickly to protect himself, because Moore looked like a big guy, just like others with whom his now-ex-wife had previously had affairs.

Now going by Michelle Hale, she took the stand, called by the defense.

She admitted to having several affairs and that Bruner knew about them.

Both broke down in tears when shown an enlarged picture of her with Moore at the movie theater.

A psychologist testified Bruner has acute stress disorder, a precursor to post traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, and that he kept his stress inside until he was put in a perceived life-threatening situation which triggers an abnormal, explosive reaction.

Bruner himself testified he was backing up as Moore kept asking who he was and said his world grew dark as if walls were closing in after Moore threatened to slit his throat.

Bruner said it was like a dream, and that he saw the gun come out of his pocket.

Bruner said he did not remember firing the shots that killed Moore.

A forensic pathologist confirmed Moore died from multiple gunshot wounds - with three to the back and others fired after he was on his knees or on the ground.

TRIAL DAY 4 - March 26, 2015

On the day of his conviction in March of this year, Bruner sat expressionless as Judge Gayle Crane read the jury's verdict.

At that time, the decision brought relief and smiles to the family of Derek Moore, the victim.

That first degree murder conviction meant the jury did not believe the defense's claims in closing arguments that Bruner suffered from acute stress disorder and acted with sudden passion.

"I think in this case, the compelling evidence was just the witnesses who were there at the scene and came in and testified to what they saw. It was a Friday night. They're at the movies, which should be a safe place. We all go to movies for entertainment, and when those people came in and said what happened, I think that was persuasive for the jury," Dean Dankelson, Jasper County prosecutor, said following the March 26 conviction.

In closing arguments, prosecutors said evidence showed Bruner was angry and mad that his wife chose Moore over him and that Bruner was not driven by fear, which would have triggered the acute stress disorder, but that his actions were unadulterated rage.

A final witness testified that just before Bruner shot Moore, the defendant said, "If I can't have her, nobody can."

"Her" refers to Bruner's now-ex-wife, Dawn Michelle Hale.

Hale at one time testified and admitted to having multiple extramarital affairs but that she typically told Bruner about those affairs.

In closing arguments, prosecutors had told the jury that it was not a trial about Hale's infidelity but about Bruner saying he was going to kill a man, as his own daughter testified, and then taking actions to do it, including going home to get not one but two guns and 37 bullets in all.

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