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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

[CA] DEPUTY'S WIFE KRISTIN WAS NOT MANSLAUGHTERED

On Aug. 14 Kristen's husband pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter - DOWN from the original murder and felony Child Endangerment charges - and now awaits sentencing. Bruce faces up to 21 years in prison but his lawyers are asking for six... The bullet entered through the lower right jaw of Maxwell-Bruce and exited behind her left ear, shattering her jaw... The couple's 4-year-old son saw the shooting happen...
THE PROSECUTOR HAS JOINED THE DEFENSE IN TRYING TO SECURE LENIENCY IN THE SENTENCING OF BRUCE.

D.A. files motion in case of wife killer
Dumanis doesn't want judge to issue sentence
San Diego Union Tribune
By Ray Huard
December 20, 2007
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has joined defense lawyers in asking an appeals court to stop a judge from sentencing a former sheriff's deputy who killed his wife in front of their 4-year-old son. El Cajon Superior Court Judge Allan J. Preckel has shown "an appearance of bias” against former Deputy Lowell Bruce, Dumanis said in a motion she filed Monday with the state 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego... In Dumanis' motion, she cited Preckel's rejection of a plea agreement that Bruce's attorneys had worked out with the District Attorney's Office. Under that agreement Bruce would have served 15 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter. She said Preckel's action left “a reasonable doubt that he would be impartial at sentencing"... Bruce had been scheduled to be sentenced by Preckel Dec. 10, but the appeals court on Dec. 5 ordered the sentencing postponed while it reviews the case... Bruce admitted that he fatally shot his wife, Kristin Maxwell-Bruce, 38, on Dec. 14, 2006... Prosecutors and defense lawyers in July proposed the plea agreement. Supervising Judge Herbert J. Exarhos rejected it, saying the disparity was too great between the 40-year-to-life sentence Bruce could receive if he was convicted of murder and the agreement's 15 years...
[Full article here]

Lawyer: Abuse Led Deputy To Shoot Wife
nbcsandiego
December 27, 2007
Lawyers for a former sheriff's deputy, who admitted to killing his wife, say he was a victim of spousal abuse and should spend less time in prison. Lowell Bruce, 40, changed his plea in August to guilty in the shooting death of his wife, Kristin, in their Alpine home. She died on Dec. 14, 2006, after being shot in the jaw at their home in Alpine. The couple's 4-year-old son saw the shooting happen. Bruce's lawyer now says a history of abuse helped provoke that crime. According to his attorney, Bruce was abused as a child by his alcoholic parents, as well as his wife and her parents, who allegedly called him lazy and stupid. The attorney also claims Bruce's wife, who weighed 283 pounds, also hit him with coat hangars and threw things at him...
[Full article here]

Deputy Who Shot Wife Says He Was a Victim of Spousal Abuse
XETV FOX6 San Diego, CA
12/27/2007
...On Aug. 14 he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and now awaits sentencing. Bruce faces up to 21 years in prison but his lawyers are asking for six... Public Defenders Henry C. Coker and Steward Dadmun claim that the 41-year-old Bruce was verbally abused by his wife and her parents, who lived with the couple... Coker and Dadmun also argue that Bruce was abused as a child by alcoholic parents and it was Bruce's wife who first grabbed his gun and told him to shoot her during a heated exchange... Earlier this month, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis asked an appeals court to prevent the judge who heard the case from sentencing him. Dumanis argued that El Cajon Superior Court Judge Allan J. Preckel is biased against Bruce because of his prior status as a deputy... The family of Bruce's wife is suing the county, Viejas Fire Department paramedics and Bruce amid allegations that she could have survived the shooting with better medical care. They allege that paramedics arrived, put her on a stretcher and began asking her questions rather than rushing her to the hospital.
[Full article here]

Lenient sentence is sought for deputy
San Diego Union Tribune
By Ray Huard
December 27, 2007
Lawyers for a [San Diego] sheriff's deputy who killed his wife said he should get a lenient prison sentence because he was verbally abused by his wife and her parents. Lowell Bruce also was abused as a child by his alcoholic parents and told a court-appointed psychologist that his childhood was "filled with stress and violence," according to documents filed by Deputy Public Defenders Henry C. Coker and Steward Dadmun. Bruce, 41, pleaded guilty Aug. 14 to a charge of voluntary manslaughter for the Dec. 14, 2006, shooting of his wife, Kristin Maxwell-Bruce, 38. She was shot in front of their 4-year-old son... Maxwell-Bruce was shot once in the jaw during an argument... She died about an hour later in the parking lot of a nearby elementary school where paramedics took her to wait for a medical helicopter... Bruce faces up to 21 years in prison, but his lawyers are asking for six... District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Bruce's lawyers have asked an appeals court to stop a judge who heard the case from sentencing Bruce. They said El Cajon Superior Court Judge Allan J. Preckel is biased against Bruce because of Bruce's position as a deputy sheriff in detentions and court services assigned to the Las Colinas Detention Facility in Santee. Bruce's lawyers have declined to discuss their motion for leniency...
[Full article here]

8 comments:

  1. Alpine Sheriff faces murder and
    child endangerment charges
    The Alpine Sun
    By Neal Putnam
    May 17, 2007

    EL CAJON - "My daddy shooted my mommy with a black gun," said the 4-year-old son of sheriff's deputy, Lowell "Sam" Bruce, as heard in El Cajon Superior Court on Monday.

    Except for his father, the boy is the only witness to the Dec. 14 fatal shooting of his mother, Kristen Maxwell-Bruce, 38, which occurred at 10:45 p.m. at the couple's home in the 700 block of Camino Scarpitta, in Alpine. She died at 11:48 p.m. after being shot in the face and before she could get to a hospital.

    Bruce, 40, was ordered Monday to stand trial for murder and felony child endangerment charges. Judge Allan Preckel set his next court appearance for May 30 when a trial date will be set. Bruce remains in the Vista Detention Facility on $2.5 million bail and he has pleaded not guilty to the two charges.

    The boy wasn't physically present in the preliminary hearing, but a sheriff's detective who heard the boy's interview at Children's Hospital testified about it. The names of the 4-year-old and his 7-year-old brother are being withheld by The Alpine Sun for privacy reasons, and they are now living with their maternal grandparents.

    Bruce, clad in a green jail uniform, sat quietly in court with his two attorneys. He wore waist and leg chains and was handcuffed. He worked at the Las Colinas Women's Detention Facility at the time and was a deputy for approximately eight years.

    Jan Caldwell, a spokesperson for the sheriff's department, said Monday, that "Lowell Bruce is still employed by our department." She added: "I can't comment any further. That would be a personnel matter and I'm not at liberty to divulge personnel matters."

    According to testimony, the murder weapon was Bruce's service weapon, a .40 caliber Glock.

    Detective Donnie Sossaman testified the boy told officials the couple had a fight. "He said they were being rude to each other. He said a fight is being rude to each other," said Sossaman.

    "He said his dad said 'I hate you.' He didn't describe any physical contact," said Sossaman.

    "She said 'Go ahead and shoot.'" the boy was quoted as saying his mother said to his father.

    The notion that Kristen Maxwell-Bruce may have said something like that after her husband was holding a gun also comes from her husband, who was quoted as saying "she told me to shoot her, so I shot her." Her mother, Kay Maxwell, testified Bruce told her the remark minutes afterwards.

    The couple lived with the victim's parents, James and Kay Maxwell and Kay Maxwell's father, in Alpine for the last few years. James Maxwell testified, "it was a pretty good arrangement" as "the boys needed a place to play."

    The victim's parents said they both woke up sharply after hearing their daughter's agony, but not the single gunshot. "I heard this horrible sound like cats fighting, this horrible, horrible sound," said Kay Maxwell.

    The couple said they went downstairs and the defendant told them "I just shot Kristen." They saw Kristen Maxwell-Bruce holding her jaw.

    "Kristen said 'Sam shot me.' She had blood running down. She said 'I lost my jaw.'"

    James Maxwell said, "she was covered" with blood. "I knew from the amount of blood we didn't have a lot of time," he said and added that he told Bruce he feared she could die.

    "He snickered, (and said) 'Not from that,' and then he left," said the victim's father.

    Several 911 calls were made, but the very first one came from the victim herself.

    A neighbor, Rani Gibbs, who is also a registered nurse, testified she examined the victim and noticed the shot went into her jaw and exited out her neck. She said the victim knew the bullet exited her neck. Gibbs said she put pressure on the jaw wound with her sweater, and added, "I could feel bone fragments."

    Gibbs said she asked the woman if she wanted prayer, and she replied, "yes, she wanted me to pray for her."

    "She was trying to remain calm," said Gibbs, and added the woman told her father she had an argument with her husband. James Maxwell said he had a good idea of what the argument was about. He said his daughter had probably kicked her husband out of the house, something she had done once before.

    "All his clothes were on the floor. He wasn't doing laundry," said the man's father-in-law.

    "Sam doesn't talk much. If they had arguments, they were away from us," said Kay Maxwell.

    Another neighbor, William Davis, a San Diego Police officer, testified he came over. He said Bruce recited a profanity-laced statement about his situation as deputies led him away to a patrol car.

    Deputy District Attorney William Gentry said it remains, "a possibility" that the couple's 4-year-old son could have to testify in his father's murder trial. "He was the only witness at the time," said Gentry.

    Bruce's attorney, Stewart Dadmun, unsuccessfully urged the judge to dismiss the child endangerment charge, saying it had not been proven. Gentry said shooting someone in front of a 4-year-old boy is child endangerment, and the judge agreed.

    If convicted of first-degree murder, Bruce could be sentenced to 25 years for the slaying, 25 years consecutively for using a gun in a homicide, and six years for child endangerment, said Gentry.

    http://www.thealpinesun.com/archive%202007/May%2017/Supplement.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. Deputy expected to plead to manslaughter in killing of wife
    By Jose Luis Jimenez
    UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
    August 7, 2007
    A sheriff's deputy charged with murdering his wife during a heated argument will probably plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter when he returns to Superior Court next week. On Tuesday, the District Attorney's Office and defense lawyers agreed the prosecution would change the charge against Lowell 'Sam' Bryan Bruce from murder to voluntary manslaughter. In return, the 40-year-old would plead guilty to the new charge, be sentenced to 15 years in prison and waive his rights to an appeal... Lawyers for both sides told Judge Allan Preckel the proposed manslaughter conviction was the best way to settle the case. The guilty plea would spare Bruce's 4-year-old son - who witnessed the fatal shooting - from testifying in court against his father... while the judge was considering it, Maxwell-Bruce's family called the courtroom to say they disagreed with the plea. The judge decided not to accept the guilty plea and scheduled another hearing for next week at which he will likely accept Bruce's guilty plea. That will give the family members, who are in Florida visiting friends, an opportunity to attend the hearing....
    http://nationalpolicenews.familybadge.org/index.cfm/act/newsletter.cfm/category/national%20police%20news/menuitemid/118/MenuGroup/National%20Police%20News/NewsLetterID/19520/startrow/26.htm


    Ex-Deputy Pleads Guilty To Shooting Wife In Face
    10news.com
    August 14, 2007
    A man who fatally shot his wife in front of their 4-year-old son during an argument at their Alpine home pleaded guilty Tuesday to voluntary manslaughter and a sentencing enhancement of using a gun -- his department-issued weapon... he former sheriff's deputy, who worked as a jailer at the Las Colinas women's jail, tried to plead guilty July 13 to the same charge, but Supervising Judge Herbert Exarhos refused to accept a deal worked out between the defendant and prosecutors. Exarhos said the disparity was too great between a maximum sentence of 40 years to life in prison and the 15 years Bruce would get under the deal. Exarhos then assigned the case to Preckel, who suggested last week that the plea deal could go forward after prosecutors replaced the murder charge with voluntary manslaughter. But as Tuesday’s hearing got under way, Preckel told both sides he wouldn't accept the deal unless all sentencing options were left open to him. Bruce's attorneys, Henry Coker and Stewart Dadmun, then unsuccessfully challenged Preckel's involvement on the case. Dadmun said he and Coker were "in the dark" as to why Preckel was uncomfortable accepting the plea agreement as drawn up. "This case is being treated differently," Dadmun told the judge. "I don't want to see my client treated worse because he was a deputy sheriff." Preckel told Bruce's attorneys that he didn't see how their client would be prejudiced by leaving the sentencing to the court. After a 20-minute break, Bruce pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and the personal use of a pistol in the Dec. 14, 2006, killing of his wife of 11 years, Kristen Maxwell-Bruce. The judge read a statement on Bruce's behalf: "I shot and killed my wife, which resulted in her death"...
    http://www.10news.com/news/13891315/detail.html?rss=sand&psp=news

    ReplyDelete
  3. Alpine couple say deputies behaved in reckless manner
    SignOnSanDiego.com
    By Ray Huard
    June 16, 2007

    An Alpine man is claiming that sheriff's deputies doused him with pepper spray, hit him with a baton and kept him from getting to his daughter as she lay dying from a gunshot wound on a stretcher in the driveway of their home.

    "They batoned him and they pepper-sprayed him," said Charles La Bella, a lawyer for Jim and Kay Maxwell.

    The Maxwells filed a legal claim June 8 against the Sheriff's Department seeking an unspecified amount of money for behaving "in an outrageous and reckless manner" in connection with the Dec. 14 death of Kristin Maxwell-Bruce, 38.

    Maxwell-Bruce's husband, Lowell "Sam" Bryan Bruce, is charged with murder and child endangerment. He is being held in jail in lieu of $2.5 million bail pending trial.

    Bruce is a deputy sheriff working in detentions and court services and was assigned to Las Colinas women's jail in Santee. He was suspended from his job the morning after the shooting.

    The Maxwells also named the Alpine Fire Protection District and Viejas Ambulance Providers in their claim. Filing a formal claim is required by state law before a lawsuit can be filed against a public agency.

    County officials in charge of assessing the claim for the Sheriff's Department are "in the process of investigating it," said Kapualani Brown, claims and investigations supervisor.

    "We haven't really had the opportunity to review what the facts are," Brown said. "I'm not even sure the homicide investigation is complete yet."

    In a May court hearing, prosecutors said Bruce shot his wife in the jaw in front of their 4-year-old son in the bedroom of the home they shared with Maxwell-Bruce's parents and grandfather. The couple's older son was in another room at the time of the shooting, prosecutors said.

    Maxwell-Bruce lived for more than an hour after she was shot. But sheriff's deputies restrained Jim Maxwell in the driveway of his home so he couldn't go to his daughter's side, and kept Kay Maxwell inside a mobile home on the property, La Bella said.

    The Maxwells, in their claim, said paramedics were negligent because they did not immediately take their daughter to the hospital but kept her on a stretcher while deputies sorted out what happened, La Bella said.

    "They would not let her leave the scene because, apparently, the sheriff's deputy in charge had determined it was a crime scene and he would not let anyone leave," La Bella said.

    Deputies later said paramedics took Maxwell-Bruce to a nearby school parking lot, where a helicopter could land, but she died at 11:48 p.m. before the helicopter reached her.

    Alpine Fire Chief Darrell Jobes declined to comment on the actions paramedics took in treating Maxwell-Bruce.

    "Our district policy is we cannot comment on any pending litigation," Jobes said.

    A spokesman for Viejas, Robert Scheid, also declined to comment.

    La Bella said Maxwell-Bruce might have survived had she been taken by ambulance to Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, which he said is a 20-to 30-minute drive from the Maxwells' home.

    After the shooting, Maxwell-Bruce ran from her bedroom and called 911 to report she had been shot by her husband, prosecutors have said.

    At the May court hearing, Jim and Kay Maxwell testified that they saw their daughter covered in blood and holding the side of her face.

    Jim Maxwell testified that he and his wife guided their daughter to a chair, where she told them she had been arguing with her husband and that he shot her in the lower jaw.

    Maxwell said he went outside to wait for sheriff's deputies and paramedics. Kay Maxwell said she also called 911. A nurse, who was a neighbor, testified that she ran to Maxwell-Bruce's aid and applied towels to the dying woman's jaw and neck in an attempt to stop the bleeding.

    Ray Huard: (619) 542-4597; ray.huard@uniontrib.com

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20070616/news_2m16maxwell.html

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  4. Maxwell et al v. County of San Diego et al
    Plaintiffs: Jim Maxwell and Kay Maxwell
    Defendants: County of San Diego, Alpine Fire Protection District, Viejas Fire Department, Deputy Lowell Bryan "Sam" Bruce and DOES 1-50

    Case Number: 3:2007cv02385
    Filed: December 19, 2007

    Court: California Southern District Court
    Office: San Diego Office [ Court Info ]
    County: San Diego
    Presiding Judge: Judge John A. Houston
    Referring Judge: Magistrate Judge William McCurine Jr.

    Nature of Suit: Civil Rights - Other Civil Rights
    Cause: 42:1983 Civil Rights Act
    Jurisdiction: Federal Question
    Jury Demanded By: Plaintiff

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/court-casdce/case_no-3:2007cv02385/case_id-260181/

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bruce pleads guilty, faces 21 years
    for shooting wife in Alpine home
    August 16, 2007
    By Neal Putnam
    The Alpine Sun

    EL CAJON - A sheriff's deputy from Alpine pleaded guilty Tuesday, Aug. 14, to voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of his wife with his service weapon.

    A previous judge refused to allow the plea agreement on July 13, but another judge accepted the plea by Lowell "Sam" Bruce after the maximum sentence was increased to 21 years in state prison.

    Bruce admitted to killing Kristen Maxwell Bruce, 38 in their Alpine home on Dec. 14, 2006. She was shot in the face and died about an hour later.

    El Cajon Superior Court Judge Allan Preckel set sentencing for Oct. 24. He changed Bruce's bail figure from $2.5 million to no bail, and Bruce, 40, remains in the Vista Detention Facility.

    Preckel earlier expressed reservations about accepting the plea after Judge Herbert Exarhos rejected it after the sentence was set at fifteen years. Exarhos had said the case should go to trial so jurors could decide if Bruce had committed second-degree murder or manslaughter.

    Deputy District Attorney Bill Gentry said Bruce will have to serve 85 percent of whatever term he gets because it is a violent felony.

    Gentry said there are "no deals" with the sentence other than the lowest term would be six years and the highest would be 21 years.

    "I don't know what the judge will do," said Gentry. "There are all sorts of combinations such as a term of six, seven, nine, 10, 13, 14, 15 or 21 years," he added.

    If Bruce was convicted of second-degree murder, he could receive 15years to life plus 25 years consecutively for the use of a gun in a homicide. He could appeal a jury's verdict.

    With the plea, there is no appeal, said Gentry. There is also no need to put the couple's four year old son on the stand, as he is the only witness besides Bruce, who saw his father shoot his mother in their bedroom.

    "My daddy shooted my mommy with a black gun," the four year old told a child psychologist the next day. The boy's words were told in the May 14 preliminary hearing by a sheriff's deputy who heard them.

    Gentry said the possibility of the boy having to testify was "not the overriding factor" that resulted in the plea. He said all aspects of the case were discussed "at every level of the DA's office."

    When a reporter asked Gentry if he was satisfied with the plea to manslaughter, he replied: "It's hard to express a degree of satisfaction in this type of case. We've looked at this carefully - It is the right result."

    Not present were the victim's parents who were out of town. They phoned the earlier judge, Exarhos, to say they opposed the plea with the fifteen year maximum sentence.

    "My heart goes out to them," said Gentry.

    Bruce worked as a corrections officer inside the Las Colinas Women's Detention Facility at the time. He was still classified as a sheriff's deputy, but is expected to be terminated because of this felony conviction.

    Bruce Maxwell testified earlier that he though his daughter was kicking Bruce out to the home because all his clothes were dumped on the floor.

    http://www.thealpinesun.com/archive%202007/August%2016/as%20inside%203.html

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  6. Former deputy who shot, killed his wife gets 15 years in prison
    San Diego Union Tribune
    By Ray Huard
    UNION-TRIBUNE
    September 11, 2008

    SAN DIEGO COURTS – A former sheriff's deputy who shot and killed his wife during a fight in their Alpine home with their 4-year-old son in the room was sentenced to 15 years in prison yesterday.

    Lowell Bruce was given the maximum sentence allowed by law after pleading guilty in August 2007 to voluntary manslaughter for the December 2006 death of Kristin Maxwell-Bruce, San Diego Superior Court Judge Michael D. Wellington said.

    It took more than a year and three judges to finally impose the sentence.

    Bruce, a deputy since 1998, initially was charged with murder. But in July 2007 prosecutors and defense lawyers proposed a deal under which he would plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and get a 15-year prison sentence.

    El Cajon Superior Court Judge Herbert J. Exarhos rejected the deal, saying it raised questions about whether Bruce was getting special treatment because of his job in law enforcement.

    A second judge, Allan J. Preckel, later agreed to it but then changed his mind, saying he wanted the discretion to sentence Bruce to a longer or shorter term. In June, Preckel was removed from the case for what an Orange County judge said was an appearance of bias against Bruce, and the case was assigned to Wellington.
    The victim's parents were outraged by the plea agreement and said Bruce should have been tried for murder, which carries a possible life sentence.

    Maxwell-Bruce's father, Jim Maxwell, said in court yesterday that the District Attorney's Office “took the easy way” by accepting a plea agreement from Bruce instead of prosecuting him for murder.

    “Because of Lowell Bruce's lack of forethought, lack of control and bad temper, our only child, our daughter, is dead,” Maxwell said.

    Maxwell-Bruce's mother, Kay Maxwell, told the judge the sentence was a miscarriage of justice and “a clear message to anyone who is abusing his wife that it isn't that serious.”

    District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis would not comment on the handling of the case, said her spokesman, Paul Levikow.

    Judge Wellington said the slaying was “a classic voluntary manslaughter.”

    He said there was no evidence that Bruce intended to kill his 38-year-old wife when he shot her once in the jaw during an argument in their bedroom.

    Choking up, Bruce, 42, told the judge he never meant to harm his wife.

    “I love her very much. I miss her daily,” Bruce said. Speaking to his two sons, who were not in court, Bruce said, “I am sorry and hope you will forgive me.”

    A former high school friend of Bruce's, Cheryl Nolan, told the judge that Bruce was “a gentle, soft-spoken, humble person” who deserved leniency.

    Bruce's lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Henry Coker, said the shooting occurred as Bruce and his wife argued over household chores. Maxwell-Bruce at one point grabbed Bruce's service pistol from a walk-in closet shelf and pointed it at Bruce. Bruce grabbed the gun and fired.

    At the time, the couple's youngest son was trying to go to sleep in the couple's bed in the East County home they shared with Maxwell-Bruce's parents and grandfather. An older son, now 9, was elsewhere in the house.

    Ray Huard: (619) 593-4953; ray.huard@uniontrib.com
    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20080911-9999-1m11bruce.html






    Deputy Who Shot Wife In Face Sentenced To Prison
    KGTV, 10News.com, CA
    September 10, 2008

    SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- A deputy sheriff who shot his wife in the face during an argument in front of their 4-year-old son was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in state prison for the Christmastime killing.

    Lowell "Sam" Bruce, 42, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter more than a year ago in connection with the Dec. 14, 2006, death of 38-year-old Kristin Maxwell-Bruce, who was shot in the bedroom of the Alpine home they shared with her parents.

    The lengthy lag in sentencing occurred because the trial judge in El Cajon refused to accept the plea bargain. The jurist, who wanted to be able to sentence the defendant to up to 21 years behind bars, was eventually removed for showing apparent bias and the case was reassigned to San Diego Superior Court Judge Michael Wellington.
    Click here to find out more!

    The victim's father, Jim Maxwell, blamed the District Attorney's Office for letting Bruce plead guilty to manslaughter.

    "Meaning no disrespect to this court, this was an act of murder, pure and simple," Maxwell told Wellington. "It's a shame the people representing the victims didn't see it this way and took the easy way out."

    The victim's mother, Kay Maxwell, told the judge she was "frustrated, hurt and angered" over what she called a "miscarriage of justice" in the case.

    The Maxwell family never agreed to the plea bargain, Kay Maxwell said.

    "They (prosecutors) abandoned three victims -- a mother and her two sons," she said in urging the judge to sentence Bruce to 21 years in prison, although he told the victim's family that the law prohibited him from doing so. "Our son-in-law made a choice when he removed his service weapon from his holster," Kay Maxwell said. "In that moment, he robbed his boys of their mother."

    She said she and her husband have put off retirement plans so they can raise their daughter's two boys, now 6 and 9 years old.

    Deputy District Attorney Kimberlee Lagotta said the voluntary manslaughter plea reflected justice in the "cruel and callous" case of domestic violence that stemmed from a heated marital argument.

    Cheryl Nolan, who has known Bruce since 10th grade, said he has always been a "soft-spoken and humble person" who has deep remorse for killing his wife and misses his boys very much.

    For his part, Bruce apologized to the victim's family and still loves his wife.

    "I wake up every morning looking for her," the tearful defendant said. "I love you boys and will never stop."

    Bruce also apologized to his in-laws for "this unexpected traumatic change in your life."

    The defendant, who worked at the Las Colinas Women's Detention Facility, said he was not a violent or aggressive person and described the homicide as "an unfortunate and uncharacteristic event."

    The night of the shooting, Bruce said he "panicked" and failed to take control of the situation.

    "My failure has left two wonderful boys without a mother," Bruce said.

    Defense attorney Henry Coker told the court that Bruce got home from work about 7:15 p.m. the night of the shooting and had a routine dinner with his wife, boys, in-laws and his wife's grandfather.

    Bruce then sat down to watch football on television, but his wife wanted him to help with putting the children to bed, checking on clothes in the dryer and working on a Christmas letter, Coker said.

    Maxwell-Bruce went into her bedroom and later emerged, finding that Bruce had not done the chores she asked him to do, his attorney said.

    "She was quite upset," according to Coker.

    The victim then decided to kick her husband out of the house, which she had done before, and started throwing his clothes into the hallway, the attorney said.

    Bruce tried to stop his wife and she became physically violent, hitting him in the back of the head with her fist and a coat hanger, his lawyer said.

    The victim went into the bedroom closet and grabbed Bruce's service weapon, and he grabbed it from her, Coker said.

    Their 4-year-old son, who was in his parents' bed trying to get to sleep, reportedly told Child Protective Services that he heard his mother say, "Go ahead and shoot me," according to Coker.

    Bruce did not intentionally shoot his wife, but the gun discharged, hitting her in the mouth, Coker said.

    The woman stayed on her feet and tried to call 911, but Bruce took the phone from her and dialed himself, begging for emergency personnel to hurry.

    "He said, 'I (expletive) up. I shot my wife,'" Coker told the judge. "This was the voice of an anguished man."

    Bruce walked his injured wife to the kitchen and told his in-laws that he had just shot their daughter, telling them she wasn't going to die, Coker said.

    In pronouncing sentence, Wellington told the victim's mother and father that no parent should have to bury their child.

    "It just violates the natural order of the universe," the judge said.

    Outside court, Jim Maxwell said he was frustrated that Bruce didn't get more time in prison.

    "I thinks it stinks," the victim's father told reporters, saying his daughter hated guns

    http://www.10news.com/news/17436413/detail.html




    Deputy Who Killed Wife Pleads For Mercy
    NBC Sandiego.com, CA
    September 10, 2008

    A former San Diego County sheriff's deputy who shot and killed his wife in front of their son told a packed courtroom on Wednesday that he still loves her and misses her.

    Lowell Bruce was sentenced to 15 years in prison sentence for fatally shooting his 38-year-old wife , Kristin, during a domestic dispute in their Alpine home on Dec. 14, 2006. Judge Michael Wellington gave Bruce the upper term of 11 years for voluntary manslaughter, plus an additional four years for using a firearm in the killing.

    Kristin Bruce was shot in the jaw at their home in Alpine in front of the couple's 4-year-old son.

    The defendant was accused of murder and felony child endangerment in connection with the case. Last August, Bruce pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter. In July, Judge Herbert Exarhos refused to allow Bruce to change his plea to guilty. Exarhos said in July that he didn't feel the deal was in the best interest of the administration of justice. That deal would have given Bruce a 15-year prison term instead of the 40-years-to-life sentence he could have received under a second-degree murder conviction.

    The ex-deputy was contrite when addressing the court prior to sentencing.

    "I panicked, and I accept full responsibility," Bruce told the court. "I am sorry, and hope you can forgive me for my part in what happened."

    Bruce also apologized to his former in-laws.

    "I hope you can accept my full apology," Bruce told them.

    The defendant told Judge Michael Wellington that he will never forget his wife.

    "I talk to her daily and tell her how much I miss her…," Bruce said. "I am so sorry and want you back to continue our life together."

    After Bruce addressed him, Wellington said the maximum sentence for Bruce would be 15 years.

    Bruce's attorney said the slaying was a domestic fight "that got out of control" and that Bruce did not intend to shoot his wife with his service revolver.

    Wellington stated that he agrees with the plea bargain and thinks that the attorneys are correct in calling it a voluntary homicide with use of a firearm. He also said that there is a lot of misunderstanding about the facts.

    Bruce had faced as much as 21 years in prison, NBC 7/39 reported in August.

    http://www.nbcsandiego.com/mostpopular/17439577/detail.html







    Deputy gets 15 years for killing wife
    San Diego Union Tribune
    By Ray Huard
    UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

    1:07 p.m. September 10, 2008

    SAN DIEGO – A former sheriff's deputy who shot and killed his wife in front of their 4-year-old son was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday.

    Lowell Bruce was given the maximum sentence allowed by law after pleading guilty in August to voluntary manslaughter for the December 2006 death of Kristin Maxwell-Bruce, San Diego Superior Court Judge Michael D. Wellington said.
    Maxwell-Bruce's parents said the ex-deputy should have been tried for murder, which carries a possible life sentence, but the judge said the slaying was “a classic voluntary manslaughter.”

    There was no evidence that Bruce intended to kill his 38-year-old wife when he shot her once in the jaw during an argument in their bedroom, Wellington said.

    “It's hard to see through tears,” the judge told Maxwell-Bruce's parents, who were in court. “My obligation, the obligation of any court, is to step back from the emotion and look at the facts.”

    Choking up, Bruce, 42, told the judge he never meant to harm his wife.

    “I love her very much. I miss her daily,” Bruce said. Speaking to his two sons, who were not in court, Bruce said: “I am sorry and hope you will forgive me.”

    Maxwell-Bruce's father, Jim Maxwell, didn't think much of Bruce's apology.

    “I don't ever want to seem him again,” Maxwell said outside the courtroom. He said the 15-year sentence “stinks.”

    In court, Maxwell said the district attorney's office “took the easy way” by accepting a plea agreement from Bruce instead of prosecuting him for murder.

    “Because of Lowell Bruce's lack of forethought, lack of control and bad temper, our only child, our daughter, is dead,” Maxwell said. “I'll bet in the back of Mr. Bruce's mind he is laughing at the very system he worked for.”

    Maxwell-Bruce's mother, Kay Maxwell, told the judge she was frustrated and angry over the outcome of the case “and this miscarriage of justice.” She said it was “a clear message to anyone who is abusing his wife that it isn't that serious.”

    District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis would not comment on the handling of the case, said Paul Levikow, her spokesman.

    Bruce's former high school friend, Cheryl Nolan, told the judge that he was “a gentle, soft spoken, humble person” who deserved leniency.

    “He's not a habitual offender and he still has a lot to offer society,” Nolan said.

    As recounted in court by Bruce's lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Henry Coker, the shooting happened as the ex-deputy and his wife argued over household chores. Maxwell-Bruce at one point grabbed Bruce's service pistol from a walk-in closet shelf and pointed it at her husband.

    At some point, Bruce grabbed the gun and fired.

    At the time of the shooting, the couple's youngest son was trying to go to sleep in the couple's bed in the Alpine home they shared with Maxwell-Bruce's parents and grandfather. An older son, now 9, was elsewhere in the house.

    Bruce called 911 for help, but his wife died before paramedics could get her to a hospital.

    The ex-deputy was initially charged with murder, but in July 2007 prosecutors and defense lawyers proposed a deal under which he would plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and get a 15-year prison sentence.

    El Cajon Superior Judge Herbert J. Exarhos rejected the deal.

    A second judge, Allan J. Preckel, later agreed to the plea agreement, but then changed his mind and said he wanted the discretion to sentence Bruce to a longer or shorter term.

    In June, Preckel was removed from the case for what an Orange County judge said was an appearance of bias against Bruce and the case was assigned to Wellington.

    Ray Huard: (619) 593-4953; ray.huard@uniontrib.com
    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20080910-1307-bn10bruce.html

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  7. Sheriff's Deputy Hired Despite Failed Psych Evals
    voiceofsandiego.org
    By KELLY THORNTON
    Friday, July 10, 2009
    Lowell Bruce, a deputy sheriff who fatally shot his wife [Kristin Marie Maxwell-Bruce] in their Alpine home in 2006, twice failed the county's psychological evaluations and was rejected for employment by eight other law enforcement agencies, but was ultimately hired by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department anyway. According to 1993 employment applications, rejection letters from the county of San Diego and other documents contained in a 2007 wrongful death lawsuit filed by his wife's parents, Bruce was told his history of violence was the reason he failed the exams and would not be hired... "The county clearly understood and appreciated that he was unfit for duty and prone to violence, but hired him anyway," the 2007 lawsuit said. "Not only did the county recklessly hire Bruce, but thereafter provided him with a Glock handgun, and allowed him to take it home with him ... Bruce was permitted to take that weapon home, and as a result, at least six lives were forever altered"... [Full article here]

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