YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – On Wednesday, a man pleaded guilty to the February killing of the mother of his child and her father in Youngstown.
Faced with the prospect of being reindicted on death penalty specifications, John Bruner, III decided to plead guilty to two counts of murder.
The Akron-area man was sentenced to 41 years to life in prison.
Bruner was charged in the Feb. 29 shooting deaths of 25-year-old Cierra Morris and her father, 58-year-old LeRoy Morris, inside of their W. Judson Avenue home on the south side.Family of double homicide victims speak out, look for community’s help
As Bruner watched the proceedings from the county jail via a video conference call, he listened as relatives of his victims spoke to Judge Scott Krichbuam.
“John did not care about how his actions would effect his own child’s life, by taking away his mother,” said Noel Morris, Cierra’s cousin.
“Cierra will not be there for Mother’s Day, birthdays, school functions, homecomings or prom,” said another cousin, Linda Morris.
Prosecutor’s say Bruner and Cierra had been arguing over custody of the child, adding that the defendant shot the victim 21 times.
“John, we hope the first and last face you see when you open and close your eyes is of Cierra and Leroy,” Linda Morris said.
Prosecutors had warned they were prepared to re-indict the case with death penalty specifications if Bruner had rejected the deal, but in the end defense lawyer Dave Betras admitted the state’s case against his client was “overwhelming”.
“He did it. He did it. I went over the evidence with him. He said, ‘I don’t wanna go to trial,’” Betras said.
While Judge Krichbaum gave Bruner credit for accepting responsibility, he sympathized with the victims’ family.
“Their way of going on would never be as good as it was before you committed these horrific crimes,” Krichbaum said.