EL CAJON – “My daddy shooted my mommy with a black gun,” was how a 4-year-old boy described what he saw the night his mother was fatally shot in a bedroom in the family's Alpine home.
“He said, 'They were being rude to each other,' ” sheriff's Detective Donnie Sossaman testified in El Cajon Superior Court yesterday.

Sheriff's Deputy Lowell “Sam” Bryan Bruce, 40, is charged with murder and child endangerment in connection with the Dec. 14 death of his wife of 11 years, Kristin Marie Maxwell-Bruce, 38.

Judge Allan J. Preckel said there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial. He ordered Bruce held in jail in lieu of $2.5 million bail pending a May 30 hearing to set a trial date.

If convicted, Bruce faces a maximum of 50 years to life in prison, prosecutor William Gentry said.

The boy, who was in the bedroom at the time of the shooting, told a psychologist that he overheard Bruce say, “I hate you,” as he pointed his service handgun at his wife, Sossaman said. The boy said his mother replied, “Go ahead and shoot,” Sossaman testified.

Bruce, his wife and their two sons, ages 4 and 7, shared the Alpine home with Maxwell-Bruce's parents and grandfather.

Maxwell-Bruce's mother, Kay Maxwell, testified that Dec. 14 had been “a normal night” but she awoke in her second-floor bedroom around 11 p.m. hearing “this gurgling sound, this horrible, horrible sound.” Maxwell said she later realized it was her daughter struggling to breathe.

Maxwell said she woke her husband and rushed to a balcony overlooking a dining room and saw her daughter covered in blood and holding the side of her face.

Maxwell-Bruce's father, James Maxwell, said he heard Bruce yell from downstairs, “I just shot Kris.”

James Maxwell testified that he and his wife guided their daughter to a chair, where she told them she had been arguing with Bruce and that he shot her in the lower jaw.

Kay Maxwell said she called 911 while her husband used a cell phone to call a neighbor for help.

James Maxwell testified that as Bruce stood nearby, “I told Lowell that she was dying, and he just kind of snickered and said, 'Oh, not from that.' ”

Neighbor Rani Gibbs testified that she was arriving home when another neighbor called to her, saying Maxwell-Bruce had been shot and needed help.

Gibbs said she applied towels to Maxwell-Bruce's jaw and neck where the bullet had exited.

“She was losing a lot of blood,” Gibbs testified. She said paramedics arrived 10 to 20 minutes later.

Paramedics took Maxwell-Bruce to a nearby school parking lot, where a helicopter could land, but she died at 11:48 p.m. before the helicopter could reach her.

Bruce, who had been assigned to the Las Colinas Detention Facility in Santee, was suspended from his job the morning of the shooting.