Olmsted County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Braley, framed here by a juror, left, and the court reporter, explained Wednesday what he found at the Bernard Brom home on the night of Feb. 18, 1988. At right is Judge Ancy Morse, who is presiding over the trial. Post-Bulletin illustration by Rick Dahl
David Brom did not act irrationally, seem confused or even ask why police officers were handcuffing him when he was arrested while making a telephone call at the Rochester Post Office the morning of Feb. 19, 1988, an officer testfied Wednesday.
``He was very cooperative,'' said Rochester police officer Tim Heroff. ``It all seemed rather matter of fact.''
Heroff was one of 10 witnesses to testify during the opening day of Brom's murder trial.
The 17-year-old Brom is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and four counts of second-degree murder in connection with the slayings of his parents, Bernard and Paulette, a younger brother, Ricky, and a younger sister, Diane, at the family home sometime late Feb. 17 or early Feb. 18.
Brom has pleaded not guilty to the charges by reason of mental illness. His attorney, Terry Walters, said Monday he would concede that Brom killed the four.
Olmsted County Attorney Ray Schmitz said he hopes to prove that Brom acted with premeditation, which is needed to support a first-degree murder conviction. Second-degree murder is without premeditation but with intent to cause death.
However, Schmitz said there will be no testimony concerning motive, because that is not one of the elements the state needs to prove.
The bodies of the Brom family members were discovered at about 6 p.m. Feb. 18. Deputies were sent to the family home in Cascade Township to check on their welfare after officials from Lourdes High School called the law enforcement center saying some students had told them David may have threatened to harm his family.
Deputies Kevin Torgerson and Michael Braley of the Olmsted County Sheriff's Department were the first witnesses Monday and told how they found the bloodied bodies of the four Brom family members in and around the second-floor bedrooms of the house. All had several cuts and gashes, they said. The deputies also said there was ``a lot of blood.''
The only two members of the Brom family not accounted for were David and an older brother, Joe, then 19, who was not living at the family home at the time. Authorities found Joe at work later in the evening and then began searching for David. A description of the teen-ager was broadcast on radio and television.
Gary Larson of Rochester told jurors he heard the description while he was driving to the post office the morning of Feb. 19 to pick up his mail. Inside, he said, he saw a young man at the telephone.
``He seemed nervous. His eyes seemed to be flashing from person to person as they came in. He turned away from the people,'' Larson said.
Larson said his immediate reaction was the young man fit the description he had just heard on the car radio. He said he left the post office and called his office on his car telephone, telling them to call police. Moments later, police arrived and arrested the youth.
Two other women who had been inside the post office at the time of the arrest also testified. One said it sounded as if Brom was trying to locate a ride.
Heroff said Brom was wearing jeans and a sweater. But, Heroff said, he had a ski cap ``pulled on tightly,'' covering up what he described as an ``unusual haircut.'' Heroff said the sides of Brom's hair were shaved, while the top was long and ``dyed jet black; a punk haircut.''
Numerous pieces of evidence were introduced, including an ax found by Sheriff's Sgt. Gerald Nelson in the basement of the Brom home. Nelson said the ax, which was bloody, was found on top of a box next to the stairway. He told jurors the dark stains still on the ax are from the blood that was never removed.
Earlier in the day, Olmsted County Attorney Ray Schmitz told jurors a hand print found on the handle of the ax matches David Brom's.
Schmitz also called Sheriff's Deputy Ken Wickelgren to introduce several items found in a cement culvert at the Romac cement company. Those items were found the morning of Feb. 23, and included a jacket and backpack. Inside the pockets of the jacket were sunglasses, a toothbrush, cigarettes, lip ice and a First Bank cash card containing the names of Bernard or Paulette Brom. The backpack was filled with cans of pop, lip crayons, pencils, cigarettes, socks, candy bars, gum and cookies.