Weeks of testimony end in Bush conviction
StoryDiscussionWeeks of testimony end in Bush conviction
CORY MATTESON Star-Tribune staff writer trib.com | Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 12:00 am | Loading…
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Larry Knievel, father of Lynn Bush, answers questions at the Natrona County Courthouse Tuesday after David Bush was accused of second-degree murder of Lynn Bush.
Photo by Ryan Soderlin, Star-Tribune ...After an afternoon of deliberations, the jury found David Labon Bush guilty of second-degree murder in the disappearance of his wife, Lynn Lynnette Bush, who disappeared more than 16 years ago.
The jury's verdict was reached just after 9 p.m. Tuesday, hours after attorneys presented their closing statements in the 10-day trial. The prosecution contended that the 10 days of testimony showed that the defendant was guilty of killing his wife, Lynn Bush, 16 years ago. The defense argued that the state's case left too much to the imagination. And 7th District Court Judge David Park told the jurors it was their job to decide.
The prosecution painted a picture of a broken marriage, a fed-up wife and a controlling, adulterous husband who talked about killing people, burying the body and getting away with murder.
The defense contended, there was a marriage Lynn Bush has vowed to everyone - including the women she knew had affairs with her husband, David Bush - would work. There was an unfaithful but loving husband who didn't control his wife and gave her plenty of time to herself, and a few sentences spoken by the defendant over several years that witnesses may have taken out of context, if they were ever spoken at all.
The prosecution told of a girlfriend on the side who heard David Bush talk about killing his wife on the day that everyone but David Bush says they lost contact with her. There was a truck with weighted bags flowing out the back speeding incredibly towards Kaycee on a Saturday morning. There's a girl in the vehicle who showed through words and behaviors months later that she saw something awful happen to her mommy that weekend.
Or there was a family sleeping in bed together on a Saturday morning after watching a movie Friday, looking at Christmas lights and listened to music in the pickup on a mild December night. There were errands for David Bush to do Saturday and a poker party to prepare for. There was trip to the grocery store that Lynn Bush never returned from. There was an obsessed family talking about their missing daughter for the months and years that follow in the presence of an impressionable young girl.
Both the prosecution and the defense asked the jury Tuesday before deliberations to look at the evidence in the first-degree murder trial of David Labon Bush. Natrona County District Attorney Michael Blonigen said the evidence showed beyond a reasonable doubt that only one person could be responsible for Lynn Bush's disappearance sometime between Dec. 7, 1990 and Dec. 9, 1990.
"Somewhere in Wyoming, Lynn Bush lies in a cold and lonely grave," Blonigen said, "taken from her child, taken from her family by that man," pointing to David Bush.
"The defendant doesn't get a bonus 'cause he got rid of the body," Blonigen said.
He told the jury that Bush's testimony, and his previous statements to police, don't hold up against the evidence.
Believing David Bush is difficult, Blonigen said, since he started lying to police the first time he spoke with them.
On Dec. 10, 1990, a day after he called police to say he found his wife's Ford F150 abandoned in the eastside Buttrey's Grocery Store parking lot, David Bush volunteered to go down to the station. There, Blonigen said, he told detectives that he stayed at home Dec. 5 and 6, and went to the park Dec. 7.
But those first two days, he was running up credit cards made out to both him and his wife, acquiring cash with them. And on Dec. 7, he spent the day with his girlfriend, Trudy Summerford, who testified that David Bush told her that day he was going to kill his wife.
Then he went home, and began to concoct what Blonigen described as an alibi filled with holes.
David Bush has said the family decided to go camping out at Alcova Lake on Dec. 7 after watching Dances With Wolves. He said they drove home in their car and loaded up the pickup with sleeping bags and lawn chairs. But Casper police detective Pat Burgen testified that he saw those items covered in dust when he went to the Bush home Dec. 10.
They bought some vodka and purchased gas at the Paradise Valley Mini Mart, both incidents confirmed through witnesses or surveillance video. But Blonigen referred to a receipt found in the truck, for $26 of gasoline purchased the day before.
"He doesn't need it to drive to Alcova," Blonigen said. "He needs it to drive to Kaycee."
Blonigen talked about the witnesses who saw the truck in or near the small town that weekend.
Those people who testified were just ordinary citizens coming forward, Blonigen said. Then there were experts who linked DNA found from blood in the truck and on the vodka bottle to Lynn Bush. And there were counselors who said Misty Bush suffered post traumatic stress disorder, caused by witnessing her dad do something awful to her mom.
Defense attorney Kerri Johnson said the information the defense brought forward left a lot for the jury to speculate about. She then reminded the jurors that they're not allowed to speculate.
Was Lynn Bush leaving her husband on that December 1990 weekend, as Blonigen said during opening statements? Only Michelle Longwelde, Lynn Bush's sister, testified that she'd heard that firsthand during a Dec. 7 phone call, Johnson said.
The many witnesses who said they knew Lynn Bush well and talked to her often - Carmen Molina, Shawn McAleer , Lynn Bush's own parents - never knew she was leaving, Johnson said.
The witnesses who said David Bush talked about burying bodies and the perfect murder were another subject of speculation on Johnson's part.
"They come in here and they make these statements that make you go, 'Hmm, did he say that?'" Johnson said.
If he did talk to them about bodies and murder, Johnson argued, why did they wait so long - in some cases 16 years - to tell authorities of these damning comments David Bush said then? Wouldn't a true friend run to the police?
Johnson then went after Summerford, who was known as Trudy Dooling in 1990 and also as David Bush's girlfriend at the time of his wife's disappearance.
On the stand, Summerford said David Bush spent the day with her on Dec. 7, 1990. She said that they drove up to Casper Mountain, where David Bush would talk only about killing his wife and threatened to kill her if she ever said anything.
But she began cooperating with police almost immediately after that day, Johnson said, and even wore a wire later that week. She allowed police to search a trailer that she and David Bush shared in 1992, and spent six hours with police during that time. Not once did she say anything about that day on the mountain.
She testified that a trip to Casper Mountain in 1993 jarred loose the memories, and that she finally told investigators about that day after the case opened back up in the spring of 2004. Johnson said the jury shouldn't buy it.
The truck may have had some of Lynn Bush's blood in it, Johnson said. The vodka bottle may have been found inside with blood on it. Witnesses may have seen bags flapping outside the truck. But it doesn't add up to murder, Johnson said.
"You have to speculate and the law doesn't allow you to speculate," Johnson said.
She said that the evidence in this case is circumstantial, a statement to which both sides have agreed. Johnson said that the jury must link together a chain of facts to prove that the crime committed. The state, Johnson told the jury, only offered random facts thrown at a wall.
Statements like those made by Larry Knievel, Lynn Bush's father, might sound good, Johnson said. He testified that he knew David Bush killed his daughter the moment he looked in his eyes.
"In the court of public opinion, that's OK," Johnson said. "In the court of law, it's not."
Contact reporter Cory Matteson at (307) 266-0589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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