Bruner’s new trial date: Sept. 30

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Escareno’s medical records delayed original schedule

By Lisa King

Mark Bruner, charged with the brutal beating of a woman left by the side of the road, will face those charges Sept. 30 in a trial in Shelby County Circuit Court.

Bruner was to have stood trial for assault March 11, but that was postponed because some needed paperwork was not in place, said Shelby County Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Melanie Carroll, who is handling the case.

In court on Monday, his public defender, Melanie Lowe-Stratton, told Shelby Circuit Judge Charles Hickman that they have received all the medical records they were waiting on from the woman he is charged with assaulting, Denisse Escareno.

“Everything is in from Arizona,” she said, adding that the discovery portion of the case has been completed.

A status hearing has been scheduled for Bruner for Aug. 5, and a final pretrial hearing has been set for Sept. 9. The trial will take place the week from Sept. 30 until Oct. 4.

Bruner, 38, of Taylorsville was indicted last year by a Shelby County Grand Jury on charges of first-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence against him in connection with the beating of Escareno on Nov. 5, 2011.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree assault, a Class B felony, punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison.

Carroll had said previously that no plea agreements have been discussed or offers been made.

Bruner was arrested 10 days after Escareno, 24, was found beaten, stabbed and barely alive by passersby on the side of Mount Eden Road about 2 miles south of Interstate 64.

Escareno, 24, was in a coma at the University of Louisville Hospital until Christmas Day 2011, when she opened her eyes. She has remained unresponsive, however, and was taken home to Arizona in February 2012 by her mother, Norma Zapien, who said doctors told her that her daughter never would recover mental awareness.

Police have said Bruner had picked up Escareno in his truck while she was walking to a cellular-phone store on that Saturday afternoon and that she left the store with him. They haven’t said why he might have beaten her.

Detectives said in court that Escareno was stabbed with a screwdriver in the chest and in the hip area. Her other serious injury was a deep indentation in the area of her right eyebrow, which, they said, she could have received by jumping from Bruner’s vehicle.

Bruner remains lodged at the Shelby County Detention Center under a $100,000 bond.