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Jury Convicts Second Defendant In 2018 Bloomington Murder

Tyjuan Bruce
David Proeber
The Pantagraph (Pool)
Tyjuan Bruce of Decatur in court Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, as his guilty verdict was read.

Prosecutors on Tuesday won their second murder conviction stemming from a botched 2018 drug robbery on Bloomington’s west side.

McLean County jurors deliberated for less than a day before returning guilty verdicts against Tyjuan Bruce, 21, of Decatur. Prosecutors say he was one of three men who plotted the robbery that killed Egerton Dover, 20, inside Dover’s home. The driver, Anthony Grampsas, was convicted of murder in July. The third suspect and alleged shooter, Curtis Hairston Jr., will never stand trial; he was killed himself in an unrelated shooting last year in Decatur.

Bruce and Grampsas were charged with felony murder under a provision of state law that allows a person to be charged if they play a part in a death that occurs during a forcible felony. Bruce also was charged with home invasion, armed robbery, and residential burglary.

Prosecutor Mary Lawson said she didn’t think Hairston’s absence made it harder to prove their case against Bruce.

“For both us as well as the family, it would’ve been nice to be able to hold (Hairston) accountable for his actions as well,” Lawson said. “But whether or not he was alive or deceased, it didn’t change the evidence. I think the evidence was clear as to what occurred.”

Dover was shot and killed early Dec. 5, 2018. Prosecutors argued Bruce and others became upset with Dover at a gathering in Normal the night before because Dover did not share his drugs with them. Authorities said Grampsas drove Hairston and Bruce to the victim’s home where Hairston fired the fatal shots during a drug-related robbery attempt.

Bruce’s defense lawyer, Mark Messman, said the evidence “falls woefully short” of a murder conviction, likening the state’s case to a 500-piece puzzle, with 495 missing pieces.

Prosecutor Tamara Wagoner disagreed.

“For us, it was clear. But that’s because we had the benefit of the Bloomington Police Department, who did a phenomenal job of digging through the evidence, and finding and locating witnesses, and pulling the surveillance videos that became important,” she said.

Grampsas will be sentenced Sept. 11. Bruce will be sentenced Oct. 8.

Dover’s death marked the end of the deadliest year in the Twin Cities for gun violence. Nine of the 11 homicides that year involved guns.

The 2018 deaths shared more in common than firearms: All of the victims and those charged with killing them were in their teens or 20s at the time their disputes turned deadly.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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