AP Exclusive: No death penalty for religious store suspect

January 11, 2019 - 10:00 am

ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell says he won't seek the death penalty for a man accused of killing a woman and sexually assaulting two others inside a religious supplies store.

Bell said Friday in a statement to The Associated Press that he will seek life in prison without the possibility of parole for Thomas Bruce.

Bruce is charged with first-degree murder and other crimes in the Nov. 19 attack at the Catholic Supply store near the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin. Authorities say he fatally shot 53-year-old Jamie Schmidt when she refused his sexual demands.

Bell expressed his opposition to the death penalty while campaigning last year, when he unseated 28-year incumbent Bob McCulloch.

James G'Sell, a deacon at Schmidt's church speaking on behalf of her family, says Schmidt's husband supports Bell's decision.

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