Jim Dodd was the salesman at the Bullet Hole, a gun and ammo shop in Overland Park, Kansas, who sold a shotgun to Justin Bruton on the morning of October 23, 1997. He testified that Justin came in to his store shortly after it opened at 10 AM the morning after the murder.(1)
He testified that Justin looked at a number of shotguns, and settled on one classified as a "riot gun", primarily used for self-defense, for $239, as opposed to some hunting shotguns priced as high as $600.(2) He testified that Justin appeared rational when he sold him the weapon, and that he would not have done so otherwise.(3) Mr. Dodd identified Federal form 4473 (entered as Exhibit 19),(4) that marked it as Justin's purchase, and the bill of sale (Exhibit 17),(5) noting that Justin had also purchased one box of 12-gauge rifled slugs. A security video tape (Exhibit 21) of the purchase was played for the jury,(6) as Mr. Dodd described the action.
After Mr. Dodd was excused, Exhibit 18 was introduced into evidence, indicating that Justin had bought a weapon from a Hypermart on September 27, 1997, less than a month before the murder.(7) This was discussed during pre-trial motions, the Prosecution being certain that Byron Case made a number of references to Justin's earlier purchase, but that his claim that Justin had sold the gun before the murder could not be considered any more than hearsay.(8)
Page 741       (Jim Dodd testimony)THE COURT:(The following proceedings were had in the courtroom out of the presence and hearing of the jury:)MR. FRY:Was there a record we wanted to make before we bring the jury down, Mr. Fry?As you know, we've had two parents, of some of the children involved here that have died, testify, and we have kept them out prior to any of their testimony. They're both requesting to be able to come back into the courtroom to listen to the rest of the trial.
Page 742       (Jim Dodd testimony)MR. LANCE:We've contacted Mr. Lance here and discussed that. We know that, by asking to bring them in, we would give up any right to recall them as a witness, and we have offered to do that, and we have also said that these are the two we'll ask for. These are the only witnesses. We're not going to ask for the rest of them to come in.
The same courtesy will be asked of Mr. Lance. If he has witnesses later on that are involved with the children, involved in this particular case. The Defendant's mother I think is one of the witnesses I would anticipate. But we're making that request, I think Mr. Lance was going to agree with it.THE COURT:Judge, I don't object to those two witnesses. I wanted to make a good record that, if it goes further, I would definitely object. I don't want to start down a slippery slope. We did invoke the rule.I think the slippery slope is this: As the numbers increase, the potential for the necessity of rebuttal and all those things otherwise increase.
Page 743       (Jim Dodd testimony)MR. FRY:As far as I'm concerned, I assume it's for Mr. Bruton and for --MR. LANCE:Diane Marshall. That's the stepmother that testified this morning, Judge.THE COURT:That's the two I won't object to. I just want to make a clear record, if we start going further, I might have a problem with it.MR. FRY:Well, now my understanding is that Ms. Moffett's mother is also done testifying too, is she not?THE COURT:Correct, and we're not requesting that she come in, and she did request to come in, but for strategic reasons, we're not asking for that.That Is fine. Then, if you don't object to it, I think I would have the discretion to do it anyway, but based on the agreement, if both Ms. Marshall and Mr. Bruton want to sit in, understanding that barring something highly unusual, they have foreclosed their ability to serve as rebuttal witnesses, that's fine with me.
MR. FRY:Page 744       (Jim Dodd testimony)THE COURT:That's my understanding.MR. FRY:All right, thank you. Anything further we need to take up at this time?THE COURT:No.THE COURT:Let's go ahead and get the jury.
(The following proceedings were had in the courtroom in the presence and hearing of the jury:)MR. FRY:Everybody please be seated. State may call their next witness.MR. LANCE:Your Honor, before I begin with this witness, I would like to move for admittance of State's Exhibit Number 20.THE COURT:No objection.JIM DODD, having been duly sworn by the Court,testified:state's Exhibit NUMBER 20 shall be admitted into evidence.
(State's Exhibit Number 20 was received into evidence.)
DIRECT EXAMINATION BY MR. FRY:
Q.Good afternoon, Sir. Would you tell the jury your name.
A.Page 745       (Jim Dodd testimony)Q.Jim Dodd.A.How are you employed, Sir?Q.I'm a salesman at The Bullet Hole in Overland Park, Kansas.A.What kind of business is The Bullet Hole?Q.It's a gun store and shooting range.A.How long have you been employed there?Q.Twenty years.A.So you were definitely employed there back in 1997?Q.That's correct.A.If you could just give us a description of where The Bullet Hole is located?Q.It's right off 63rd and Metcalf in Overland Park, Kansas, 63rd, Shawnee Mission Parkway, it's the same thing.A.From the Plaza, about how long would it take someone to drive from the Plaza to your store?Q.It's a straight shot. I would say five, six, miles. 63rd runs right into the Country Club Plaza.I want to then direct your attention back to October the 23rd of 1997. Do you recall Some of the events that occurred that day?
A.Page 746       (Jim Dodd testimony)Q.Yes.A.Did a man name Justin Bruton enter your store?Q.Yes, that's Correct.A.Can you tell the jurors what Mr. Bruton inquired about when he came into your store?Q.It was early in the morning, 10, 10:30. I think it was about the first customer. He came in, and I was there, and he was asking about a shotgun. He wanted to purchase a shotgun.A.Were you the only employee at that time?Q.Yes, that's correct.A.Is that because you just opened?Q.Yes.A.So he inquired about a shotgun and will you tell the jurors what you did?My first thought was I thought, because it was October, that's hunting season, my first thought he was looking for like a hunting shotgun, but he indicated to me that he was looking for something different. And we carry a variety of types of shotguns. The one he pointed out to me was a Remington H70, which is a law enforcement type gun. It's like a riot gun. It's a shorter barrel. They don't have a choke or anything on them. It's mostly for personal protection.
Q.Page 747       (Jim Dodd testimony)A.Did you discuss how much that one cost with him?Q.Yes, I did.A.And did he finally settle on another shotgun that cost a little bit less?Q.Right. Because the hunting guns were four, five $600 depending on which one he was looking at, and the one he picked out was a Remington H70 which is $239.A.I want to ask you, first of all, in your 20 years there, if somebody comes into your store and they smell of alcohol, will you sell them a gun?Q.No. Will not.A.Now, what about if their behavior was like near dysfunctional or any kind of bizarre behavior?Q.If anybody comes in that acts strange or not what we would say quite right, what I do, I'm very polite to them and stuff like that, and I'll basically talk them out of purchasing something. It's simpler that way.A.Let's talk about the behavior of Mr. Bruton when he walked into the store. Do you remember how he behaved?Walked right on in. Walked over. I was behind the counter. Was looking at shotguns. Didn't act fidgety or nervous or anything like that.
Page 748       (Jim Dodd testimony)Q.Indicated he wanted to buy a shotgun. I pointed out the different ones we had. He picked out the one that he was interested in, and I sold him the gun.A.Your experience was fairly normal?Q.Right, right. He had his mind made up. He was looking for a shotgun, and I sold him exactly what he wanted.A.And was no smell of alcohol?Q.No, no.A.After he made his selection of the shotgun he wanted, what process do you do in terms of just breaking that shotgun down so he can carry it out?Well, first, before you even buy it, you have to fill out the yellow form which is the 4473 which is the federal form required by the federal government. Name, address, date of birth, place of birth and then answer the eight or nine questions. And then you sign and date it. And the gun was assembled, and then I disassembled it for him, and I put it in the box also.
All the guns came with boxes, so for everybody I disassemble the gun, break it down in three parts, put it in a box so it's easier for him to carry.
Q.Page 749       (Jim Dodd testimony)A.You mentioned the form 4473?Q.Uh-huh.A.There are probably a lot of jurors that have never purchased a gun, so would you describe for the jurors what that form is in just a little more detail?Q.It's the federal form that's been around since 1968. The laws have changed. Now you have to go through the Brady Bill. But initially, when this gun was purchased, he was a Missouri resident. He came over to Kansas, which you can do. He purchased the firearm. He filled out the yellow form, the 4473. You print everything on it. Your name, your date of birth, your address, your Social Security number at the bottom and your driver's license. You answer eight or nine different questions. Are you a convicted felon? Do you use drugs? What state do you reside in? And then you sign it and date it at the bottom. And then I fill in the bottom part, which is like Remington H70, the serial number of the gun, the type of gun, which is shotgun, and the caliber and then I sign it and date it at the bottom.And I assume, if he answers any of those written questions wrong you're not allowed to --
A.Page 750       (Jim Dodd testimony)Q.Correct.A.You're not allowed to --Q.Like if you're a convicted felon, he puts yes on there, that's an automatic no.A.And at the time there was no waiting and checking?Q.That's correct.A.I showed you earlier what we have marked as State's Exhibit Number 19, did I not?Q.Yes.A.And can you tell us for the record what that is a copy of?Q.This is a copy of -- our copy of the 4473, which he filled out and I signed and dated.A.Do you recognize your handwriting on the bottom of that form?Q.That's correct.A.Sir, is it a fair and accurate copy of the form that was filled out that day?Q.That's correct, yes.A.And what is the date of that purchase?Q.October 23rd 1997.Thank you very much. In addition to filling out this form, you go and you get a box; is that correct?
A.Page 751       (Jim Dodd testimony)Q.Correct.A.And you disassemble the gun; is that correct?Q.Correct.A.And then you got to write up a receipt; is that correct?Q.Correct. Bill of sale.A.Do you remember discussing any ammunition purchase with Mr. Bruton? If you don't recall, I realize this was five years ago or four years ago?Q.I might have asked him if he wanted some ammo, and my first choice would have been like double-aught buck or something like that, but as I recall, he asked for rifled slug.A.I'm going to show you what I have marked as Exhibit Number 17. I showed it to you earlier today. I would ask you if you recognize that.Q.Yes, I do.A.And what is that a copy of?Copy of the bill of sale that I gave to him with his name, address, date of birth, driver's license, type of shotgun, payment of -- it was cash. Total price with sales tax and everything included, stamped gun picked up, showing he picked up the gun, and he signed it on the bottom.
Q.Page 752       (Jim Dodd testimony)A.And you recognize the handwriting as yours as well?Q.Correct.A.And it's a fair and accurate representation of the receipt that you filled out that day?Q.Yes.A.What's the date of that receipt?Q.10-23-1997.A.Is there any ammunition mentioned?MR. FRY:Yes, one box of 12-gauge rifled slugs.MR. LANCE:Your Honor, I would move to introduce Exhibit Numbers 17 and 19.THE COURT:No objection.BY MR. FRY:Seventeen and 19 shall be admitted into evidence.
(State's Exhibit Nos. 17 and 19 were received into evidence.)
Q.A.Sir, do you recall the manner of how this gun was paid for?Q.Cash.Now, law enforcement officials came to your store a few days later; is that correct?
A.Page 753       (Jim Dodd testimony)Q.That's correct.A.You were contacted by someone with Jackson County Sheriff's Department; is that correct?Q.That's correct.A.In your store, as part of your security system do you have some video camera equipment?Q.Yes, we do.A.When they inquired as to the date of this purchase, was the videotape equipment checked to see if there was any videotape taken during this purchase?Q.Yes, I believe so.A.I showed you today earlier, just to make sure, a videotape marked State's Exhibit Number 21, did I not?Q.Yes, you did.A.And you looked at the entire tape, did you?Q.That's correct.A.When you watched it, did you believe it was a fair and accurate representation of the events that occurred in your store as you sold the shotgun to Mr. Bruton?MR. FRY:Yes.Your Honor, I would move to introduce State's Exhibit Number 21.
MR. LANCE:Page 754       (Jim Dodd testimony)THE COURT:No objection.MR. FRY:State's 21 shall be admitted into evidence.
(State's Exhibit Number 21 was received into evidence.)THE COURT:At this time I would ask permission from the Court to play this videotape for the jury.MR. FRY:You may do so.THE COURT:Your Honor, could I have the witness stand beside the TV to the side so he doesn't block anybody's vision and then also kind of at appropriate times narrate what he's doing and observing to help the jury.BY MR. FRY:You may do so.
Q.A.Mr. Dodd, if you would come over here and stand to the side. Remember, these are the folks that have to see. When we looked at the video, Mr. Dodd, the videotape was actually divided into four quadrants; is that correct?Q.That's correct. Different parts of the store.A.And this videotape is just the one small quadrant?Right. Where I made the sale at.
Q.Page 755       (Jim Dodd testimony)A.Ladies and gentlemen, this is not going to be the full screen. Look for the one in the fourth quadrant.
How close can you get to this so you're not in anyone's way? Is this all right with everybody so far? I'm going to stand to the side as he narrates. If he's blocking anybody, if you could raise your hand real quick, and we'll take care of it.
The speed on this is not natural speed, it's sped up; is that right?Q.That's correct. This is where the sale was made right up here. Here I am.A.Is that Mr. Bruton?Yes. That's where the shotguns were at, right there. He's examining it and everything. Looking at it. I'm explaining to him different facets about the gun, how it's loaded and everything. The ammunition he asked for. I'm going to get the box now. We give the box separate. All guns have to be matched. There is a serial number on every box that coincides with every gun. That way we always make sure that everybody has the appropriate box with each gun.
Page 756       (Jim Dodd testimony)That's the yellow form right there, the 4473. I'm having him fill it out. I'm getting his driver's license to show he is who he says he is. He's filling out the yellow form right there. Last name first, date of birth, place of birth, height, weight, everything like that. Answering all the eight questions.
I'm using his driver's license to write down all the pertinent information, driver's license, date of birth, address, everything like that. Then, after all that's filled out, then I will get the gun, match the serial number on the gun so I make sure I have it correctly on his receipt and everything.
Checking the serial number. Checking the box making sure everything is the same. Because he's a Missouri resident, because he was 20 years of age, he can legally purchase the gun, and it can be taken across state lines. Handguns you cannot take across state line. They have to be transported with another licensee, but shotguns can be picked up and taken out the same day.
I'm figuring tax to make sure everything is right. Now I'm counting the money, making sure everything is correct. He did pay cash. I'm disassembling the gun.
Page 757       (Jim Dodd testimony)Q.That breaks down into three pieces: The barrel, the stock and the receiver. Taking everything apart. Placing it in the box. Putting everything in there. That's all there was to it. This is a lot more complicated now because of Brady, but in those days, that's all it was.A.Have a seat. One last question for you, Mr. Dodd. About how much time did this whole transaction take in your estimation?MR. FRY:No more than ten minutes I would say. Didn't take very long. Seriously. He had his mind made up. Basically I had what he was looking for there, and I didn't show him anything else. That's the one he picked out. Looked at it. Examined it and everything like that. Decided that's what he wanted. Price was right. He had the money. Filled out the 4473 and did all the paperwork and that was it.
It doesn't -- when somebody has their mind made up, it doesn't take very long, five, ten minutes, unless they're looking at multiple firearms.One second, please, Your Honor. I have no further questions. Thank you. The other attorney may have some.
THE COURT:Page 758       (Jim Dodd testimony)MR. LANCE:Mr. Lance, do you have any questions of this witness?THE COURT:Judge, I don't think we have any cross exam.MR. FRY:Thank you very much, sir. Appreciate your testimony.
(The witness was excused.)MR. LANCE:Your Honor, at this time parties have agreed that this form that was filled out by Justin Bruton as was just described, there was another purchase on 9-27 of '97 by Mr. Bruton at the HyperMart over here at 9051 Hillcrest in Kansas City, Missouri. As a business record, the parties have stipulated to its admission as evidence. It's Exhibit Number 18. And it shows the purchase of that shotgun on 9-27-97 in Kansas City by Mr. Justin Bruton. I would move to admit this at this time.THE COURT:No objection to 18.Eighteen shall be admitted into evidence.
(State's Exhibit Number 18 was received into evidence.)
THE COURT:MR. FRY:Eighteen involves a different firearm than this gentleman testified about?That's correct, Judge, and it's a different date.