BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – A Summit County man accused of murdering his wife has been found guilty on all counts.
Dale Bruner is accused of beating and strangling his wife Stephanie Roller Bruner and then leaving her to die in the Blue River just before Thanksgiving of 2010.
“He got what was coming to him, justice for Steph,” Roller Bruner’s sister Ramona Roller said.
There was no sign of a crime scene where Roller Bruner was beaten in the head or strangled. There was also no object that’s ever been found with her blood on it. There was no direct evidence linking Bruner to the murder, but prosecutors said they did’t need it.
Over the past week and a half the prosecution laid out a case that Bruner has a past of domestic violence, and even threatened his wife a few years ago while choking her, saying he’d kill her if she ever left him.
Three weeks before Roller Bruner disappeared she filed for divorce.
“He had the opportunity, the motive, and the ability to do what he did to kill her by hitting her in the head, strangling the life out of her and dumping her body in the Blue River,” Deputy District Attorney Kristine Word said.
The defense argued that was merely speculation.
“How much weight do you give that story they’re telling? Where’s the story coming from?” defense attorney Robert Bernhardt told the jury. “Why are they getting the story and other people aren’t?”
The defense emphasized that there was abundant reasonable doubt and that the investigation was lacking since it began.
“We got a report that this woman is missing and not one police officer goes to that school to talk to those children,” Bernhardt said.
But prosecutors said with no other suspects, circumstantial evidence was enough.
“We don’t know the sequence of events; we don’t know how he got her to the river,” Word said. “We showed you pathways, we showed you the proximity, we showed you the ease the defendant could carry her body to the river.”
The jury returned the verdict after deliberating into the evening.
“I don’t think he has any feelings about having murdered Stephanie and somebody like that should not get away with a crime like this,” Roller Bruner’s uncle Hank Ronish said.
Bruner was also convicted on two counts of assault and three counts of tampering with evidence. He’ll be back here at the Summit County courthouse for sentencing on Sept. 28.