Daniel Clay found guilty of felony murder in Chelsea Bruck death
(WJBK) - A jury has found Daniel Clay guilty of felony murder Chelsea Bruck, a woman who went missing at a Halloween party in Monroe County back in 2014.
Clay was also found guilty of disposing of a dead body. He will be sentenced on July 13. Clay was found not guilty of first degree murder.
Jury selection began for Clay's trial on Monday, May 8, and opening arguments were on Tuesday, May 9. One week later, lawyers gave their closing arguments and the jury began deliberating at about 2 p.m. and took about three hours before reaching a decision.
Clay had been charged with open murder, meaning the prosecutor was not required to choose between first- or second-degree murder. The jury then determined the appropriate degree based on the evidence.
Yesterday, Clay testified in his own defense, saying he accidentally choked Bruck, 22, to death during sex. But forensic experts say Bruck had injuries consistent with a violent attack.
Below is an interactive map that walks you through the case, starting from the day Chelsea went missing to the first day of Clay's trial:
Chelsea was last seen Oct. 25, 2014, at a Halloween party on Post Road in Monroe County's Frenchtown Township. She was dressed as Poison Ivy, wearing a green leotard with fake leaves and a red wig, covering her blonde hair.
She was reported missing a few days later and on Nov. 5, 2014, Monroe County officials held a press conference to alert the public. Chelsea had been missing for 10 days.
Family and friends began to form search parties a few days later but were unable to find her. In March 2015, Monroe County officers searched Pointe Mouillee Game Area, where officials say they often search when after the winter thaw. Again, they did not find her.
On April 5, 2015, detectives responded to a call in Flat Rock at an abandoned industrial site, where they found part of Chelsea's costume from the Halloween party.
A few weeks later on April 24, police were called to a property near Briar Hill Road in Ash Township. The property owner was moving dirt and discovered a body that police confirmed to be Chelsea's remains.
After interviewing over 100 people at the Halloween party, police made an arrest. Clay was taken into custody July 22, 2016, and held at Monroe County Jail after blood evidence connected him to the crime.
The sheriff's department said at the time of Clay's arrest that he knew details that only the killer would know. He was officially charged July 25, 2016, with second degree murder.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner released the cause and manner of death, saying Bruck died from blunt force trauma to the head.
During a hearing on Nov. 2, 2016, Clay told investigators that Bruck died accidentally when the two were having rough sex.
Also during that hearing, the medical examiner testified that they also found two of Bruck's teeth were chipped, which they said would be a part of possible blows to the central portion of her jaw. Sarah Barr, Michigan State Police lab expert, testified that the costume police discovered April 2015 was damaged -- the shoulder straps and crouch panel had been cut out or torn.
Additionally, Clay was arraigned Aug. 8, 2016, in Monroe County in a separate incident for raping a woman after entering her Monroe apartment in July. He was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a life offense and first-degree home invasion, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The rape allegedly happened before his arrest in the Bruck case.
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