Chelsea Bruck murder case: Suspect takes stand after prosecution rests
Daniel Clay charged in connection to Chelsea Bruck's 2014 murder
MONROE COUNTY, Mich. – The Chelsea Bruck murder trial continued Monday in it's second week as detectives talked about the interrogation of Daniel Clay and the prosecution eventually rested before the defense began calling witnesses and Clay took the stand.
Clay, 27 of Newport, is charged with second-degree murder in connection with Bruck’s death. According to authorities, Clay was linked to the death with DNA evidence obtained by Michigan State Police.
Clay is accused of killing 22-year-old Bruck in 2014. Her disappearance from a Halloween party in Frenchtown Township prompted searches across several counties. Her remains were found a year later in Ash Township.
READ Day 1: Trial begins; mother takes the stand
READ Day 3: Full transcript of Daniel Clay's interrogation (available soon)
Detectives discuss interrogation tactics, review interview with Clay
Detectives continued talking about the interrogation video that was played for the jury Thursday.
The first detective explained some of the tactics used to coaxing a suspect into talking to authorities.
Much of the interrogation video was played again for the jury and the detective who interviewed him talked about their discussion.
Both detectives talked to Clay after he was taken into custody.
Prosecution rests; defense’s case begins
Several motions were heard and the prosecution formally rested before the jury.
The defense began by calling Dr. Daniel Spitz to the stand. He is a forensic pathologist and serves as the chief medical examiner in two counties in Michigan.
The testimony focused on the definitions of homicide and murder.
Spitz talked about the photos of Bruck’s body and the defense offered other possible means of death.
Clay takes the stand
Daniel Allen Clay took the stand Monday. He told the jury he was “pretty messed up” by the end of the evening in question and described the party.
Clay said he went to his car to get marijuana and saw Bruck on his way back to the party. He described her costume in detail and said he began flirting with her. He said they smoked weed together and had drinks. He also said that he had taken Xanax.
He said they went back to his car and they kissed. Clay said they were having intercourse when they were interrupted by someone in the parking lot and that Bruck got spooked.
Clay said they parted ways and continued to party. Hours later, he said he left and saw Bruck walking down the road by herself. He told the jury he gave her a ride.
He said they pulled over, got into the back seat of the vehicle and began having intercourse.
Clay said Bruck asked to be choked and the sex was consensual. He said he later noticed she was going limp and he stopped. After she went limp, Clay said he tried giving CPR and that she didn’t respond.
He told the jury he carried her from the car as far as he could and put sticks on top of her. He said he dropped her multiple times and the injuries she sustained were postmortem.
Clay said his statements to authorities during interrogations and interviews were not entirely true but that his testimony on the stand was truthful.
He said he caused Chelsea Bruck's death, but that it wasn't his intention.
Prosecution grills Clay
The prosecution began the cross examination with questions about how intoxicated he was the night of the party.
Contradictions in Clay’s testimony and what he told authorities were discussed. Many of his answers were vague.
He never told authorities about the marijuana he brought to the party or about the Xanax that he gave Bruck. The prosecution alleged that it was possible he was tailoring his answers to match expert’s testimony.
Clay told the jury he was under stress at the time of those interviews and didn’t mean to leave out details.
The prosecution asked about his previous experiences with erotic asphyxiation.
He told the jury he took a rear-view mirror from the vehicle and held it to Bruck’s mouth to confirm she wasn’t breathing.
The prosecution asked why he didn’t call for help. Clay said his phone was dead. He was then asked why he didn’t go to a nearby house for help. Clay said he didn’t realize there were any houses nearby.
After five hours of interviews and interrogations, and over an hour on the stand, he admitted to ripping the costume, contradicting earlier claims.
Clay said he is remorseful and that he thinks about it every day.
The defense rested. Closing arguments are expected Tuesday.
Bruck was last seen Oct. 25, 2014 wearing a "Poison Ivy" costume consisting of black pants and a green leafed covered top. The family of the 22-year-old pleaded for help finding her. Flyers were put up by the community and a ground search intensified.
Her Halloween costume was found six months later at an industrial site. Her body was found in a wooded area near train tracks April 24, 2015.
Dental records were used to confirm the remains belonged to Bruck, and investigators said evidence at the scene indicated a homicide. The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office later ruled her death a homicide, saying she died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Clay arrested in July 2016
After an exhaustive investigation over nearly two years, 27-year-old Daniel Clay was taken into custody July 22, 2016.
According to a criminal background check, Clay has misdemeanor convictions for possessing controlled substances, breaking and entering, assault, and assaulting/resisting a police officer. He was also arrested in May in the theft of tattoo equipment.
DNA collected from Clay in prior arrests by Michigan State Police allegedly matched DNA found on Bruck’s Halloween costume.
Clay’s home was placed under surveillance and he was taken into custody where he was initially interviewed.
“During the interview, detectives obtained details that only the killer would have known as this information had never been disseminated to the public,” Monroe County Sheriff Dale Malone said.
At his arraignment in July, Clay told the judge he didn’t want a bond.
“I don’t want a bond. I’m not even going to ask for one,” Clay told the judge.
Clay asked for a court-appointed attorney, and the judge granted the request for a competency exam. He was found competent to stand trial.
Fifteen witnesses testified during a preliminary hearing in November. The prosecution first called Michael Williams to the stand. He threw the Halloween party where Bruck was last seen. More than 600 people were in attendance at William’s annual event.
Timeline of events
Oct. 26, 2014: Chelsea Bruck vanishes from Halloween party in Monroe County
Bruck went missing on a Saturday night during a party on Post Road in Frenchtown Township. She was last seen wearing a Poison Ivy costume consisting of black pants and a leaf-covered top.
Oct. 29, 2014: Bruck's family, friends continue search
Nov. 2, 2014: Chelsea Bruck case: Police search for guards
Police searched for the security guards who were hired for the party.
Nov. 12, 2014: Reward now $5,000 in Chelsea Bruck case
Nov. 17, 2014: Chelsea Bruck's family appeals for help
March 19, 2015: Authorities search Michigan game area for missing Chelsea Bruck
Dozens of law enforcement officers searched Pointe Mouillee Game Area in southeastern Michigan amid an effort to find Bruck.
April 5, 2015: New clue in missing Chelsea Bruck case
Police said they found what they believed to be a portion of Bruck's costume in the area of Peters Road and Vreeland in Flat Rock.
April 6, 2015: Helicopter, K9 search for Chelsea Bruck in Flat Rock
April 24, 2015: Construction workers find body in rural Monroe County
Construction workers found the body around 2 p.m. Friday in a wooded area near train tracks in the village of Carleton. Officers from the Michigan State Police Crime Lab and Monroe County Sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene.
The construction crew was doing excavation work on a piece of property where a man is planning to build a house. The crew discovered the body while checking on a piece of equipment, police said.
April 25, 2015: Remains found in Monroe County identified as Chelsea Bruck
Dental records were used to confirm the remains belonged to Bruck, and investigators Saturday said evidence at the scene indicated a homicide.
June 9, 2016: Witness comes forward after pictures released in connection to Chelsea Bruck case
After the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office released photos of a person who was at the party and may have had information, the witness made contact with authorities.
July 22, 2016: Monroe County Sheriff: 27-year-old Newport man in custody in Chelsea Bruck case
After an exhaustive investigation over nearly two years, a 27-year-old Newport man was taken into custody.
July 25, 2016: Suspect in Chelsea Bruck slaying: 'I don't want a bond'
At Daniel Clay's arraignment, he told the judge he didn't want a bond.
Nov. 2, 2016: 15 witnesses testify in Chelsea Bruck murder case
Fifteen witnesses testified during a preliminary hearing for Daniel Clay.
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