Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder by the Book: William Overson

"Senseless" Crime

Fritz Bruce
Fritz Bruce

Fritz Bruce was scheduled to go on trial for first-degree murder one week after Derieux pleaded guilty. With a likely sentence of death looming on the other side of his trial, Bruce pleaded guilty on the day before jury selection was to begin. He admitted to a laundry list of felonies: murder, conspiracy, carjacking, robbery, lying in wait, murder during commission of a carjacking and murder during a robbery. In exchange, prosecutors dropped their pursuit of capital punishment.

Rosemary Overson
Rosemary Overson

At Bruce's sentencing a few weeks later, Rosemary Overson got the opportunity to confront the man who took her husband away. "There's no way to express what he's done to me," she said. "Everything we planned is gone. Everything that I thought was ahead of me is gone." She said she had been forced to quit her nursing job, and she tearfully described the heartrending decision to sell the motor home that was to carry the couple into their dream retirement together. She glared at Bruce and said, "He thinks he's such a big man, but look at him now." She called him a "laughable, pitiable figure."

In a letter, Overson's son, Mike, said, "I wonder if you'll ever understand what you've done, or if you even care?"

Prosecutor Koerber added, "William Overson was a man with family, friends and a life, and all he was to Montgomery Bruce was an obstaclean obstacle to getting money."

The convict's attorney, Lee Plummer, suggested that Bruce was a follower in the scheme, not the leader. Plummer said Bruce made "a horrible mistake." Bruce's step-sister, Joni Fabela, added tearful testimony on behalf of his family.

In the end, Judge So did what was expected of him. He handed down the sentence spelled out in the plea agreement, life in prison without possibility of parole, plus an additional 31 years to life.

The judge noted that a theme had developed in the pre-sentencing letters he received from Overson's loved ones and friends. "In several of the letters, the word 'senseless' was used," So said. "That is an apt description of this crime."

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