YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A man who pleaded guilty last week to shooting his father to death was sentenced Monday to 18 years to life in prison.
The sentence given to Michael Bruno Jr., 49, of Boardman, is the only sentence he can receive for a charge of murder.
Judge Anthony D’Apolito handed down the sentence which includes the minimum 15 years to life for the murder charge plus an additional three years for a firearm specification.
Bruno pleaded guilty last week to the murder charge for the Sept. 17, 2022, shooting death of his father, Michael Bruno Sr., 74, at a Leland Avenue home in Boardman.
Judith McCauley, the elder Bruno’s sister, told the judge her brother was a Vietnam veteran who was in the U.S. Air Force and suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. His years after Vietnam were not happy ones, but her brother kept his family together, McCauley said. Bruno was his only son.
McCauley said their mother left the family when she was 11 and her brother was four, and she raised him.
“I loved him like he was my own,” McCauley said. “He was a good kid.”
Her brother was saddled with a house he didn’t want and had to put his wife in a nursing home, something his son was not happy with, McCauley said.
When the elder Bruno decided to sell his home, McCauley said the younger Bruno went “ballistic.”
“You crept into my sleeping brother’s bedroom and stood just inches away from a sleeping man, and you aimed that gun and you pulled that trigger eleven times,” McCauley said.
Her brother told her, “Only when I go to sleep does peace come.”
McCauley said the younger Bruno became a “toxic narcissist” who “sponged” off his family. She said she only agreed to the plea deal so that she could have some closure.
“This was decided only to put an end to something I can’t handle,” she said.
“There is not one person who loves you or cares about you,” McCauley told her nephew.
Defense attorney Tony Meranto said family dynamics are always complicated. He said the fact his client shot his father 13 times shows he was not acting rationally.
Meranto said his client did take responsibility for his actions and said murder is the appropriate charge, not aggravated murder, which was dropped in exchange for his plea.
The younger Bruno apologized.
“I made a horrible mistake,” he said. “If I could rewind the hands of time, I would. I ask God to forgive me. I was not in my right frame of mind.”
Judge D’Apoloto said he could not comprehend how Bruno could kill his own father, even if there were family issues involved.
The elder Bruno was found by Boardman police lying in his yard with multiple gunshot wounds.
Reports said the younger Bruno, who was a deputy at one time with the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, told officers he recently had COVID-19 and that the disease was “taking over America.”
Bruno told police a “disease made me do it” and that he shot his father with his “baby Glock,” reports said.
Bruno was originally deemed incompetent to stand trial, but his competency was restored after spending several months in a mental health facility.