The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

July 17, 2013

Murder scene, timeline detailed in Pollard trial

OTTUMWA — Witnesses gave a detailed description of the chronology of events surrounding Kenneth McDaniel's murder and the intricacies of the wounds he sustained.

Bruce Pollard has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the death of McDaniel, the Cinema X Theater manager, on March 11, 2012.

Opening statements painted starkly different pictures of the suspect, the victim and the theater.

Iowa Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown said McDaniel "had a simple life and a relatively meager existence, but he had a brutal and horrific death."

During Pollard's second interview with police on March 19, 2012, Brown said "in this instance, Bruce Pollard admits to killing Kenneth McDaniel."

"Bruce Pollard's version of what happened is that Kenneth McDaniel sexually came on to him, which is why the attack happened," Brown said.

But that wasn't the only time Pollard admitted to killing McDaniel, Brown said. Pollard also wrote a letter to his girlfriend's mother in which "he details how he killed Kenneth McDaniel."

The defense presented a different scenario. Attorney Allen Cook described Cinema X as a place "most people in Ottumwa probably wished never existed."

Cook also described McDaniel, who lived under the projectors in the theater and generally kept to himself, not often venturing into the community.

He said Pollard's troubled childhood -- "wrought with violence, substance abuse by his parents, a lot of anger" -- led to problems in his adolescent and adult life.

"You will likely find that Bruce Pollard suffers from PTSD as a result of his childhood experiences," Cook said.

This contributes to the defense's assertion of "diminished responsibility," which "essentially means that Bruce Pollard had some mental condition which did not allow him to form a specific, premeditated intent to kill," he said.

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