Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder by the Book: William Overson

Clothing Burned

The ballistics evidence was revealed at a three-day preliminary hearing in November 2004 before Judge Kenneth So. By then, detectives had collected additional damning evidence against Bruce and Derieux, who had fallen into the trap of so many criminals: They could not keep their mouths shut.

View of Mission Beach Area
View of Mission Beach Area

One key witness for prosecutor Koerber was Bruce's housemate, Deborah Clark, 53. Police had pressured her to testify by threatening to add her name to the murder conspiracy. She was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony. Clark said Bruce left a pile of bloody black clothing with her on the day of the Overson murder. She said she washed and bleached the clothing, then took the articles to Mission Beach, where she burned them in a bonfire. Clark said Bruce had freely discussed all the details of the murder with her. "He admitted that he was the shooter and that somebody named Jimmy was the driver," Clark said. "He said he had cut the gun up...that the evidence was gone."

After Clark left the stand, Derieux's tile company employer, Matthew Martine, added testimony that linked the second suspect to the murder. The two men were close friends, having grown up together in Clairemont. In the weeks after the Overson murder, Martine said, he became aware that police were following Derieux. He asked Derieux why, and Derieux admitted he was involved in the Tecolote Canyon case. "He said he had signed up for a robbery to make about $10,000," Martine said. "He said he was just going to drive."

After the preliminary hearing, Judge So concluded there was sufficient evidence to reasonably suspect the men were involved in the murder. He ordered them bound over for trial. A few weeks later, Koerber announced prosecutors would seek the death penalty against Bruce and life in prison without parole for Derieux.

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