Archive for Saturday, June 13, 1992


June 13, 1992


Douglas County's first murder of 1992, involving the death of a 23-month-old toddler, goes to trial Monday.

Douglas County Dist. Atty. Jerry Wells confirmed Friday afternoon that jury selection would begin at 9 a.m. Monday in the case of Donald E. Bruce, 29, Lawrence.

Bruce has been charged with felony murder and an underlying count of child abuse as well as a single count of felony child abuse in connection with the death of 1-year-old Eric Brewer on Feb. 4 or Feb. 5.

Wells said the court had stipulated that the case would not go as scheduled if Bruce's attorney, Harry Warren, had not received records from the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

Warren could not be reached for comment Friday, but Wells said Warren had been able to obtain the records.

BRUCE WAS bound over for trial after a preliminary hearing in March.

Evidence at the hearing pieced together the alleged sequence of events that lead to the boy's death.

Witnesses testified that Bruce had been out the night of Feb. 4 drinking with his girlfriend Wendy Brewer, who is Eric's mother.

The child had been in the care of his father Scott Brewer for most of the evening, but Wendy Brewer and Bruce picked up the child around midnight Feb. 4.

The couple, along with the child, went to the Green Acres Mobile Home, Court, 1045 E. 23rd, where they intended to stay with their friends, Robert and Bronica Aden.

The day after the child was found dead, Bruce reportedly told Lawrence police Det. Dave Davis he had put Eric to bed in a back bedroom of the mobile home. He reportedly shook the boy hard to stop him from crying and the boy's head snapped and the child stopped breathing. Davis said Bruce told officers he tried to revive the boy by hitting him on the chest and back.

IN A WRITTEN statement to police, Bruce said he then "put my left knee on his stomach and my right knee on his chest and pushed twice. My knee in his stomach gave both times. Eric then did stop crying but was wheezing."

The child's mother had told officers that she had been too drunk to hear the child crying. Brewer also will go to trial July 20 on charges of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the child's death.

Some of the same witnesses who testified during a preliminary hearing for Bruce in March are listed on a preliminary witness list drawn up by Wells and Assistant Dist. Atty. Kristine Kenney, who will be co-prosecutor in the case.

Witnesses subpoenaed on behalf of the prosecution range from the Adens, who allegedly were in the mobile home when the child died, to police officers to medical personnel at the scene, Wells said.

WELLS SAID he will call as many as 11 witnesses to the stand during the trial. He did not know how many witnesses the defense would call.

First the defense and prosecution will have to wade through jury selection Monday. Wells didn't know the size of the jury pool, but said he hoped they could wrap up that portion of the trial by noon.

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