By Ray Huard
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
September 11, 2008
SAN DIEGO COURTS – A former sheriff's deputy who shot and killed his wife during a fight in their Alpine home with their 4-year-old son in the room was sentenced to 15 years in prison yesterday...
Lowell Bruce was given the maximum sentence allowed by law after pleading guilty in August 2007 to voluntary manslaughter for the December 2006 death of Kristin Maxwell-Bruce, San Diego Superior Court Judge Michael D. Wellington said.
It took more than a year and three judges to finally impose the sentence.
Bruce, a deputy since 1998, initially was charged with murder. But in July 2007 prosecutors and defense lawyers proposed a deal under which he would plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and get a 15-year prison sentence.
El Cajon Superior Court Judge Herbert J. Exarhos rejected the deal, saying it raised questions about whether Bruce was getting special treatment because of his job in law enforcement.
A second judge, Allan J. Preckel, later agreed to it but then changed his mind, saying he wanted the discretion to sentence Bruce to a longer or shorter term. In June, Preckel was removed from the case for what an Orange County judge said was an appearance of bias against Bruce, and the case was assigned to Wellington.