(WJBK) - The verdict is in for the man charged with killing Chelsea Bruck after a Halloween party nearly three years ago.
A jury deliberated for about three hours and read the verdict finding Daniel Clay guilty of felony murder and disposing of a body. It is a verdict that could mean life behind bars for Clay.
He admitted he did it and now a jury agreed this was no accident. Family members hugged and quietly break down after learning a jury had convicted Daniel Clay of killing 22-year-old Chelsea Bruck and hiding her body.
"I only had a couple minutes to talk to them but this is nearing the end of a 31-month ordeal for them - from Oct. 25, 2014 until today," said Michael Roehrig. "It is a huge emotional relief for everyone involved."
From a missing person case to a homicide. It took months, but detectives eventually pointed to Daniel Clay as the person responsible.
Clay denied it at first - and then claimed he accidently strangled Bruck during aggressive sex they had in the car after leaving the Halloween party in Frenchtown Township, but he never meant to kill her.
"I know I'm the one that did it," he said Monday on the stand. "I don't know about the injuries she sustained. I don't know how those happened."
Prosecutors disagreed. Among other evidence showing injuries to Bruck's face they felt proved her death was intentional. On top of the fact - he hid her body in the woods and denied ever seeing the young woman that night.
A jury clearly agreed with the prosecution, reaching a guilty verdict in a matter of hours.
"I think it is an ineffective trial strategy to suggest to the jury they should find the suspect guilty of one offense but not another offense, and that in effect is what he was doing," said Roehrig.
Roehrig felt the evidence presented during the trial was strong - crediting the detectives from the Monroe County Sheriff's Department for tirelessly working this case. He knows a conviction won't change what happened to Chelsea Bruck, but he hopes it will begin to bring her family closure.
"No amount of criminal justice can ever bring Chelsea Bruck back, nor the victim of any homicide," Roehrig said. "But I think the verdict speaks volumes about what the defendant did that day and certainly brings a measure of justice as well."
Clay will be sentenced July 13 and that is when the family said they will be ready to speak.
Clay was found not guilty for first degree murder, the jury did not find it premeditated. Instead the jury found him guilty of felony murder which means he killed her in the act of a felony.
SEE ALSO (in order of date from most recent to earliest):
- May 16, 2017: Daniel Clay testifies Chelsea Bruck death was rough sex accident
- May 9, 2017: Defense claims Chelsea Bruck died of erotic asphyxiation as trial begins
- May 8, 2017: Trial for Chelsea Bruck murder suspect underway
- Nov. 2, 2016: Graphic testimony in hearing for man accused of killing Chelsea Bruck
- Nov. 2, 2016: Daniel Clay bound over for trial in Chelsa Bruck murder
- Aug. 8, 2016: Chelsea Bruck murder suspect now charged with rape in separate incident
- July 27, 2016: Prosecutor: DNA links man to Chelsea Bruck in Halloween party death
- July 25, 2016: Daniel Clay had problems with law long before Chelsea Bruck's death
- July 25, 2016: Medical Examiner: Chelsea Bruck died of blunt force trauma
- July 25, 2016: Man charged with murder in Chelsea Bruck death
- July 22, 2016: 27-year-old Newport man arrested in murder of Chelsea Bruck
- July 22, 2016: Monroe Co Sheriff to hold press conference on Chelsea Bruck murder
- June 9, 2016: Police question possible witness in Chelsea Bruck murder
- June 9, 2016: Possible witness in Chelsea Bruck murder has come forward