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Guilty verdict returned in murder case [The Dominion Post]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Fairmont Bureau Chief
The Dominion Post
January 23, 1987

FAIRMONT—Twenty-four-year-old Denzil Bush was convicted Thursday of murder in the second degree for the 1986 in slayings of two Fairmont residents in what defense attorneys called a “crime of passion.”

The verdict ended a three-day trial in the shooting deaths of Kelly Mason, 25, and Rebicca (Bunny) Brock Clauser, 28, who were found dead at Clauser’s apartment Aug. 19, 1986.

The eight-woman, four-man jury deliberated for hours before reaching the verdict. Bush faces 5-18 years in prison for each of the two murders. Marion County Circuit Judge Fred L. Fox said Bush would be held without bail in the county jail until sentencing.

Defense attorney Ross Maruka sought a reduced sentence, saying Bush was distraught after his girlfriend left him for another man. He said Bush had found them in bed together, and his judgment was compromised.

“This is an issue of sudden excitement and intense passion,” argued Maruka, who called Bush as his second witness Thursday. Bush told he jury he’d been to the Doris Brock, Bunny mother, at 1 p.m. on August 18 and discussed the domestic problems he’d been having with her daughter.

Brock later told the jury that Bush told her: “’Man, I’m gonna kill her because she threw me over for a [black man].’”

Bush also testified that he and the victim had gone out to a local bar at 2 p.m., and at 8 a.m. they had a fight, after which she left him alone at the bar.

Later that evening, Bush spotted Clauser in a car with a group of people and when
he went over to it, the driver stepped on the gas and began dragging Bush along the road.
“That made me mad,” Bush said.

Bush recounted he then went to the Elks Club with Jack Hebden where he saw Clauser and Mason together. Bush said when he approached her, she said, “’Leave me alone, I have a lot of things to think about.’”

He said he left the bar and went to Clauser’s apartment and testified he took a television set, $60 worth of meat, and “probably scrambled a few things around.”

He said he then went to the home of his neighbor, Billy Rice, to get a gun because “I wanted it for a show of authority. I wanted to run in them out of the apartment so I could get in there and get my clothes.”

Rice did not furnish him with a gun, Bush said, so he went back to his parent’s house and grabbed his family’s 12-oauge shotgun. He said he did not know if the gun was loaded, but when he opened the gun case shells fell out.

Bush said when he got to Clauser’s apartment, he told Mason and Hebden to leave and pushed Clauser down on the floor. “I had given her a ring and I wanted to get it back,” Bush said. “When she was down there, I just pulled the trigger. And then I took off and shot Bunny.”

Both victims were shot once.

Bush then testified that “everything was going so fast. The last person that I ever wanted to hurt was Bunny.”

Prosecuting Attorney Monty Brown had built his arguments on the intent that Bush meant to kill Clauser and Mason, which would have found Bush guilty of murder in the first degree.

“There were steps of preparation Bush had to go through to carry out the crime,”
Brown said. “He went to his neighbor’s house for the gun, took four shells into the apartment because (witness) Calvin Hood told him there were four people in the apartment. I think Bush deserves to be put in jail for life without mercy,” Brown told the jury. “If anyone was showing mercy it was Kelly Mason. Certainly Bush showed no mercy, and the jury should not either.”


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"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.