Man who slayed former coach to serve life in prison

Jeffrey Bruner

Jeffrey Bruner

On Friday, March 27, a 12-person jury found Jeffrey Bruner guilty of the first-degree murder of former Missouri Southern assistant football coach Derek Moore, about a year and a half after the crime occurred.

In the state of Missouri, first-degree murder carries a mandatory term of life in prison without parole. Official sentencing will occur on May 18.

According to initial Joplin Police Department reports, Dawn Michele Bruner, Jeffrey Bruner’s estranged wife, and the 37-year-old Derek Moore were walking out of Regal Northstar 14 Theatre around 9:50 p.m. Nov. 1, 2013, when Jeffrey Bruner confronted Moore and shot him several times.

Police and emergency vehicles arrived at the scene minutes later to apprehend Jeffrey Bruner, who was arrested at 9:52, and take Moore to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Dawn Bruner, who now goes under her maiden name Dawn Hale, was an employee of Southern’s University Police Department at the time of the incident, but no longer works for the University.

Southern — Moore’s employer at the time of his death — released the following statement about the guilty verdict:

“The death of an employee, especially under such shocking and violent circumstances, is always a heavy loss. Derek was and will always remain a member of our Lion family. Our commitment to his son through the Elijah Moore Trust Fund — which has raised more than $8,000 thus far — is one of the ways we continue to honor his memory and thank his family for the impact he made on our student-athletes and campus.

“While it can’t undo the past, a verdict helps provide a sense of closure and peace to our campus community.”