Tyjuan Bruce played a critical role in the death of a Bloomington man by plotting the drug-related robbery that led to the victim’s death, a prosecutor said Monday in closing arguments in Bruce’s murder trial.
Egerton Dover, 20, was found with multiple gunshot wounds in his apartment in the 800 block of West Jefferson Street.
Jurors began deliberations at 4:30 p.m. after a week of testimony. They will continue Tuesday.
The circumstances surrounding Dover’s death resemble a puzzle, prosecutor Tamara Wagoner told jurors. A gathering at an apartment in Normal, Dover’s trip to Champaign for a pound of marijuana and his refusal to share his drugs, were all pieces of the picture of Dover’s death, said Wagoner.
A photo of Dover’s body sprawled on his kitchen floor after the shooting was displayed for jurors as the completed puzzle.
The motive for the “senseless, stupid” shooting was “marijuana and disrespect,” said Wagoner.
Illinois law allows Bruce to be held accountable for the killing even though the man police believe was the actual shooter, Curtis Hairston, was later killed in an unrelated incident, the prosecutor argued.
Co-defendant Anthony Grampsas was convicted of murder in July for his role as the driver who brought Hairston and Bruce to Dover’s home.
Among the evidence pointing to Bruce as a participant in the crimes leading to Dover’s death were statements from witnesses who heard Bruce’s threats to steal Dover’s drugs, said Wagoner.
Defense lawyer Mark Messman said the evidence “falls woefully short” of a murder conviction for the 21-year-old defendant.
Messman likened the state’s case to a 500-piece puzzle, with 495 missing pieces.
“This case has more unanswered questions than answered questions. Unanswered questions are the enemy of the truth,” said Messman.
The lack of DNA, fingerprints or other physical evidence linking Bruce to the shooting, combined with a lack of a murder weapon and proof as to who fired the fatal shots, amounts to reasonable doubt, Messman argued.
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