OTTUMWA — Closing arguments have begun in State v. Bruce Pollard.
Pollard, 26, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the death of Cinema X manager Kenneth McDaniel on March 11, 2012.
During closing arguments Tuesday morning, prosecutor Scott Brown said not only was it evident that Pollard killed McDaniel, but he did so by choice and in brutal fashion.
He explored the five elements of first-degree murder that the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt: that Pollard struck McDaniel; that McDaniel died as a result of being struck; that Pollard acted with malice aforethought; that Pollard acted willfully, deliberatively, premeditatively and with specific intent to kill (or that Pollard participated in a robbery); and that Pollard was not acting with justification.
Pollard admitted twice to killing McDaniel, Brown said. His blood was found on McDaniel's body, his shirt has McDaniel's blood on it, pornography found in his possession is consistent with that found at Cinema X and video shows Pollard entering and leaving the theater that night.
"There really is no dispute here," Brown said of McDaniel's cause of death. "[He] died as a result of being struck and strangled by Bruce Pollard."
Malice is evident, he said, because Pollard brought the pry bar with him to the theater and concealed it in his coat. And the confrontation was not spontaneous, he said, because Pollard was in the theater for 20 minutes.
"I'm not saying that he went there with the intention of killing [McDaniel], but he certainly had the intention to kill him once he was there and he did it and he stole the items he went there to steal," Brown said.
Brown also referred to Pollard's own words that he struck McDaniel first.
"It wasn't a couple blows and out the door he went," Brown said. "He meant business whenever he attacked Kenny McDaniel."
The evidence that proves malice also proves the element of specific intent, Brown said.
"Premeditation ... doesn't need to exist for any particular length of time," he said. "He hit him over and over and over. This has also been characterized as a struggle. This is not a struggle. This is a beat-down by Bruce Pollard."
What other intent could Pollard have had besides killing McDaniel? Brown asked.
In the middle of Brown's closing arguments, Pollard's mother, wiping tears from her eyes, left the courtroom and had not returned as of noon.
It's clear that Pollard was participating in robbery, Brown said.
"There's a saying ... 'When you hear thundering hooves, think horses not zebras,'" Brown said. "He means don't ignore the obvious. This was a robbery, plain and simple. And he killed Kenny McDaniel to accomplish it, plain and simple."
The state must also prove that Pollard was not justified in his actions, which Brown said is evident in any number of events from that night.
Pollard could have unlocked the front door, he could have simply threatened McDaniel with the pry bar or pushed him over and there is "zero evidence" of McDaniel assaulting Pollard, Brown said.
"On the basis of a hand [on Pollard's thigh] and two zippers is the quantum leap the defense wants you to make in this case that there was some sexual accosting," Brown said.
Pollard is "overwhelmingly guilty," Brown said.
"He beat him and strangled him for minutes," he said. "[McDaniel] did not deserve what happened to him. No one deserves that. He did not deserve to have his head beaten with a crowbar, he did not deserve to be strangled, he did not deserve to be attacked by Bruce Pollard in the theater that day."
The defense will resume its closing arguments this afternoon.