Bruner on tape: ‘I have nothing to hide’
Ryan Summerlin July 23, 2012
BRECKENRIDGE – The jury charged with deciding the second-degree murder case against Dale Bruner for the killing of his wife heard his voice for the first time Monday when prosecutors played a taped interview with police.
“I have nothing to hide,” Bruner told the detective emphatically on the tape shortly after his wife’s murder. “Absolutely nothing.”
Bruner, is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree assault and tampering with evidence in the killing of his wife, Stephanie Roller Bruner, whose body was found in the Blue River near the couple’s Silverthorne home in November 2010.
Roller Bruner, a dance instructor and mother of three, had been having what’s been described as an “emotional” affair with another man, and filed for divorce weeks before she died.
While prosecutors are calling the murder domestic violence, defense attorney Robert Bernhardt continued to build his case on the quality of the police investigation during the fourth day of trial proceedings Monday, highlighting police handling of evidence and investigators’ failure to seal off the Bruner house as a crime scene during the time between Roller Bruner’s disappearance and the discovery of her body.
“Understanding the importance of getting a crime scene secured never occurred, obviously, to officer Baker, officer Jones or officer Baldwin?” Bernhardt asked Silverthorne police officer Teresa Barger, who has since been made a detective. “And it wasn’t a concern for you, either.”
“Finding her was my concern,” Barger responded.
Bernhardt argued the case against Bruner is based on “conjecture,” “speculation,” and investigators’ assumption that no one else could have killed Roller Bruner.
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert has called more than 20 witnesses to the stand thus far, including Roller Bruner’s brother, the man she was seeing and his ex-wife.
A friend and former employee of Bruner’s was among the witnesses who testified Monday morning, telling the court that Bruner’s life appeared to be unraveling in 2010, that he seemed to be in financial trouble and that he’d lost his temper with her the summer before his wife disappeared.
The defense noted that the woman drew conclusions about Bruner’s financial situation without having seen his books or bank statements.
One of Roller Bruner’s closest friends, Jennifer Voxakis, was also among the witnesses to take the stand Monday. She noted that Bruner appeared to be very calm in the wake of his wife’s disappearance and that he seemed to be doing very little to search for her.
The prosecutors’ questioning has focused on Roller Bruner and Bruner’s state of mind prior to and just after her disappearance, as well as Bruner’s alleged history of domestic violence.
Two of his former girlfriends testified last week that he put his hands around their throats in a moment of explosive anger during an argument.
Multiple people have testified Bruner appeared to be looking for other women to date in the weeks leading up to Roller Bruner’s death.
The jury is set to travel to the Bruner’s former home in Silverthorne this afternoon.
Bruner reported his wife missing just before Thanksgiving, 2010, telling authorities they had gotten into a small fight the night before and that she’d gone for a walk to clear her head.
She never came home.
The following morning he tried to call her cellphone several times before taking his children to the school bus and contacting the police.
Law-enforcement officers, police dogs and later search and rescue combed the area around Roller Bruner’s home for three days as her family and friends poured in to town from other parts of the country to help.
On Nov. 26, 2010, her body was discovered in the river, and cause of death was later ruled a combination of blunt force trauma, strangulation, hypothermia and drowning. She’d been the victim of a homicide, the Summit County Coroner said.
Bruner was publicly named the prime suspect soon after.
He was indicted by a grand jury on multiple felony charges in August 2011. He has declined several plea deals from the prosecution.
Court records paint a picture of a crumbling marriage in the weeks leading up to Roller Bruner’s death and things appeared to begin to unravel after she was laid off from her job as a planner for Summit County Government in October 2010.
The same month, she requested a restraining order against Bruner, according to testimony at trial. She eventually vacated the restraining order, but later filed for divorce.
The couple had been married 11 years.
The couple’s three children are now living with Roller and his wife in California.
Bruner has since moved to Fort Collins.