The first-degree murder and robbery trial of Joseph Bruny, 28, began with opening statements Wednesday. He is charged in the Dec. 31, 2017, fatal shooting of Jamal and Malcolm Frederick in Boynton Beach.
WEST PALM BEACH – Assistant State Attorney Courtney Behar said no one is arguing over the fact that Joseph Bruny shot and killed two brothers at their grandmother’s home in Boynton Beach. She said even Bruny admits to that.
But, she told the 14-person jury during her opening arguments Wednesday afternoon, what the evidence will show is that it was not self-defense, as Bruny claims, but instead a fatal shooting stemming from a drug debt.
“Joseph Bruny murdered Jamal and Malcolm Frederick, and that it was not, at all, under any stretch of the law or the imagination, excused,” she said. ”(This is) not a justified homicide.”
Bruny, 28, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and robbery in the Dec. 31, 2017, fatal shooting of Jamal Frederick, 21, and Malcolm Frederick, 24.
Defense attorney Scott Skier told the jury that what prosecutors left out in their opening statement was key: the semi-automatic weapon found underneath one of the brothers and another gun found under the other. He said those guns backed up his client’s statement to police that Jamal Frederick told his brother to shoot Bruny.
“Ask yourself: Does the evidence support the theory that Mr. Bruny’s intention was to commit a robbery?”
At about 1:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve 2017, Boynton Beach police were called to the 200 block of Northwest Third Avenue, east of Interstate 95 and north of Boynton Beach Boulevard, to reports of a shooting.
Those inside the residence called 911 when they heard yelling. Then the gunshots went off, the attorneys said. The caller told police a black Lincoln had fled the scene.
Two young men were found under the carport of their grandmother’s home with fatal gunshot wounds. A majority of the shots were in their backs, according to the police report. In court Wednesday, Behar told the jury Jamal was shot five times in the back, and Malcolm was shot twice in the back and once in the leg.
Bruny – who was on the phone with 911 dispatchers and headed to the police station, according to Skier – was pulled over by officers in the Lincoln.
Bruny told police he gave the brothers one-fourth of a pound of marijuana to sell and he expected to get $700 in return. Skier said when Bruny drove by the home that afternoon, Bruny thought it was strange Malcolm Frederick didn’t come up to the car to give him the money like he normally did.
Bruny got out of the car and noticed Jamal had a gun in his pocket and told police he took it from him. He told investigators that’s when Jamal told Malcolm to “shoot him.”
Bruny said Malcolm pulled a submachine gun, a Cobray M-11, according to the police report, and Bruny grabbed his gun and shot at the brothers. Behar noted in her opening statements that only one kind of bullet was found at the scene, matching Bruny’s gone.
Skier and police reports show Bruny has a concealed-carry license for the weapon.
“Two people lost their lives, and we are humbled before them,” Skier said “But under this scenario … we have a right to defend ourselves.”