Owen man avoids murder charge

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Suspect takes deal, will testify against others in connection with slaying of Franklin County man

By Molly Haines

Murder charges have been dropped against one of two Owen County men accused of killing and dumping a man’s body on the side of Interstate 64.
David Bruce II, 44, was facing charges of murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence.
The charges came after the May 5, 2012 death of Charles Monroe of Franklin County.
The charges were amended Monday in Franklin County Circuit Court to second-degree robbery, second-degree assault and criminal facilitation to murder.
Bruce pleaded guilty to the amended charges along with a charge of tampering with physical evidence.
In an interview last year, Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melon said Monroe’s body was found along the Interstate 64 eastbound ramp at U.S. 127 in Franklin County in what he called an alleged “drug deal gone bad.”
Joshua Hammond, 32, also of Owen County and James Simons, 36, of Grant County were also arrested in connection with the killing.
According to Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland, the three men planned to rob Monroe after buying prescription drugs at the Walmart parking lot on Leonardwood Drive in Frankfort.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Cleveland said in terms of causing Monroe’s death, Bruce had very little involvement.
“His involvement was very slim,” Cleveland said. “In terms of the assault he was not greatly involved in that. He did receive some proceeds of the robbery, a very small amount.”
Cleveland said he recommended 20 years in prison and opposed probation for Bruce, whose sentencing has been set for July 26.
Cleveland said Bruce’s guilty plea could expedite the January 2014 trial for the men.
“The attorney for Bruce had a conflict in November,” Cleveland said. “We might be able to get (Hammond and Simons) tried a couple of months sooner with (Bruce’s) guilty plea.”
Cleveland said it was likely that the three men would have been tried separately.
“So now we have two instead of three,” Cleveland said. “We’re also taking assistance and testimony from Bruce against (Hammond and Simons), so that greatly helps this case.”