Couple plead not guilty to baby's murder

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Judge refuses to reduce bond

By Calen McKinney

Dressed in bright orange, their attorney at their side, the mother and stepfather face the judge.


Dale Brucker, 26, and Brianna Brucker, 20, both of 109 Mill St. in Campbellsville, have pleaded not guilty to murdering 3-month-old Charles Brett Hayden Jr.

Brianna Brucker is the child’s mother and Dale Brucker is his stepfather.

After being indicted last month by a Taylor County grand jury following a nearly six-month investigation into the baby’s death, the Bruckers were in Taylor Circuit Court on Tuesday afternoon for arraignment.

And during their appearance, the two, shackled at their wrists and ankles, each asked for their bonds to be reduced. The requests were denied.

The Bruckers were each charged with murder, which is a Class A felony punishable by as much as life in prison.

According to the indictment, the Bruckers caused trauma that led to the infant’s death on July 22 at Kosair Children Hospital in Louisville. Local police say Hayden died of blunt force trauma.

Brianna Brucker appeared before Taylor Circuit Court Judge Allan Bertram first on Tuesday afternoon.

She told Bertram she was employed when she was arrested, and expects to continue to be if released from prison.

Bertram asked if she has hired an attorney to represent her, or would soon be able to with help from family members.

“I would like to,” she told Bertram. “But I can’t do nothing from in here.”

Bertram appointed Shanda West-Stiles from the Department of Public Advocacy to represent Brianna Brucker.

West-Stiles entered a not guilty plea on Brianna Brucker’s behalf and asked that future court hearings be set in the case.

A discovery conference was set for Tuesday, March 5, at 1 p.m. and a pretrial conference was set for Tuesday, April 9, also at 1 p.m.

West-Stiles said she understands the prosecutor’s office opposes her client’s $100,000 cash bond being reduced. However, she said, Brianna Brucker has appeared in court when scheduled to in other cases and would in this one.

West-Stiles said Brianna Brucker’s grandmother was in the courtroom and would be willing to sign a form stating that her granddaughter will appear for her court dates, though she doesn’t have any money to post as bond.

For a case of this nature, Bertram said, some cash will be required in return for Brianna Brucker’s release from the Taylor County Detention Center.

Bertram said he can discuss the amount of Brianna Brucker’s bond during her next court appearance, but will leave it at $100,000 cash until then.

Brianna Brucker’s hearing lasted nine minutes. As a security officer escorted her back to a holding cell, she waved to family members in the audience, who told her they love her.

Dale Brucker appeared before Bertram for a three-minute hearing, at which he told Bertram that he has no source of income and, therefore, can’t hire an attorney to represent him.

West-Stiles was appointed to also represent him. She asked that his bond, set at $125,000 cash, also be reduced.

“He is obviously unable to make that,” she said.

Bertram said he declines to lower Dale Brucker’s bond for now, though that can be discussed again at a later court date. Dale Brucker’s case was also set for a discovery conference March 5 and a pretrial hearing on April 9.

Campbellsville Police Chief Tim Hazlette said last month that an investigation into Hayden’s death began after someone called 911 and said the baby needed medical attention.

According to a Campbellsville Police news release from July, Campbellsville/Taylor County EMS personnel responded to a call reporting that the 3-month-old was unresponsive at the Mill Street home.

The infant was treated at Taylor Regional Hospital and later transported to Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy for the infant was conducted at the state medical examiner’s office in Louisville.

TRH staff members notified law enforcement of the death after they found evidence that concerned them, Hazlette said.

In July, the death was simply being investigated and hadn’t yet been ruled as accidental, from natural causes or as the result of a homicide. Since then, Hazlette said, police have continued the investigation by interviewing the Bruckers about their alleged involvement in the incident. He said they have also taken polygraph tests.

Hazlette said lab and medical examiner reports, which were shown to grand jurors, show that the infant died of non-accidental blunt force trauma to his head.

“It’s unclear what manner that blunt force trauma was delivered,” he said.

Hazlette said the investigation into the death took a while because it needed to be done correctly.

“We went through this pretty intensely,” he said.

Campbellsville Police Detective David Tucker is investigating the case against the Bruckers.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Shelly Miller is prosecuting the case.

The Bruckers are being housed at the Taylor County Detention Center.

As a condition should they be released, the two were ordered to not have contact with any children younger than 12.

• An indictment is a legal accusation only.