OTTUMWA — The man convicted of murdering Kenneth McDaniel will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Bruce Darnell Pollard Jr., 26, was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison without parole on first-degree murder. On July 23, Pollard was convicted in the death of Cinema X Theater manager Kenneth McDaniel.
He was also convicted of first-degree robbery and given a consecutive sentence of 25 years in prison.
Charlotte Kovacs, of the Wapello County Attorney's office, read a statement on behalf of the McDaniel family:
"My family sat through the trial listening to the defense attorney describe Kenny as something that he was not. They made him look like a terrible person. Kenny was a good man. He was hardworking and he was an honest man. The truth is he would never hurt anybody and he would never take anything from anyone. He was friendly, but he was a quiet man. He was well liked and he was loved by us very much. [Defense attorney] Allen Cook offended my family and others in our community greatly by the way he tried to portray Kenny."
During the trial, Cook described the night of the murder, March 11, 2012, as McDaniel's last chance at a "homoerotic sexual encounter" with patrons of the theater. Pollard had alleged that McDaniel placed a hand on his leg in the theater, bringing back trauma from childhood sexual abuse.
During sentencing recommendations, prosecutor Scott Brown said Pollard showed no remorse for his actions.
Pollard denied that, speaking on his own behalf.
"The state has said I showed no remorse in this and I have," Pollard told the court. "I said I knew from the very beginning I was wrong. I did not mean to kill Kenneth McDaniel. I do know my actions on the night of March 11, 2012 was wrong. I overreacted. My actions have caused major trauma for not only the victim's side of the family but my family, too.
"I am sorry. I should be punished, but all I can say is I'm sorry. I can't go back and change my actions. I can't go back and do things differently. All I have is the fact that I am sorry."
Judge Lucy Gamon said Pollard's crimes were "brutal" and "horrific" and "cannot possibly be tolerated in civilized society."
"Many people have traumatic childhoods without going on to commit such horrible crimes," she said. "You have affected the lives of many, many people, not only the victim."
Before Pollard was escorted out, he turned to his mother, who cried throughout Thursday's hearing.
"I love you, mom," he said.
She whispered, "I'm sorry" to the McDaniel family as she left the courtroom.
Pollard will be transferred to the Iowa Medical Classification Center (commonly known as Oakdale prison) in Coralville.