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Court date for Bruner moved to next year

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By Lisa King

A status hearing for Mark Bruner has been rescheduled for Jan. 7 in Shelby Circuit Court, as well as a jury trial date of March 11.

Bruner was indicted 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 Denisse Escareno on Nov. 5, 2011.

Bruner, 38, of Taylorsville was arrested 10 days after Escareno, 24, was found by passersby brutally beaten, stabbed and barely alive, 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 by her mother, Norma Zapien, who said doctors told her that her daughter never would recover mental awareness.

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

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

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