The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 7, 2014

Change of venue sought in slain coach case

A judge took under advisement Monday a motion for a change of venue in the case of Jeffrey Bruner, who is charged with fatally shooting Missouri Southern State University assistant football coach Derek Moore.

Defense attorney Ross Rhoades believes his client cannot get a fair trial in Jasper County because of publicity and a likelihood that residents of the county may be prejudiced against Bruner because of Moore’s connection to the university.

Bruner, 40, is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the Nov. 1 slaying of Moore, 37, outside a Joplin movie theater complex. Police say he shot the newly hired football coach multiple times as he emerged from the complex in the company of Bruner’s estranged wife.

By Supreme Court rule, any motion for a change of venue in the case was supposed to have been filed by Feb. 3. Rhoades filed motions Feb. 6 asking that he be allowed to file late because of various difficulties he encountered meeting the deadline, and a hearing on the matter was held Monday morning in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Circuit Judge Gayle Crane said she would take the motions under consideration and issue her rulings at a later time.

Rhoades also was seeking a reduction of bond for Bruner at the hearing. His client remains jailed on a $1 million bond. Rhoades called members of Bruner’s family to testify that they do not believe he poses any danger to the community.

But Bruner’s estranged wife, Dawn Bruner, testified that she remains terrified of the defendant and what he might do to her if he were released. She took out a protection order against him in January in the event that he was able to make bond.

Crane denied the bond reduction request.

Defense motions

A JASPER COUNTY JUDGE has denied a request to reduce the bond of Joplin murder defendant Jeffrey Bruner and has taken the defense’s request for a change of venue under consideration.

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