Sandra Mulder did everything she could for Bryan Brackbill Jr. — no one disputes that.
She treated him like a son. She gave him money. She even put a roof over his head.
"That's how much Sandy Mulder cared for that man," chief deputy prosecutor David Sunday told jurors Wednesday during closing arguments in Brackbill's murder trial.
But after years of treating Brackbill with affection and friendship, Mulder put her foot down in the early-morning hours of June 1, 2013, according to the prosecutor.
"He wasn't used to hearing 'no,'" Sunday said. "Not from Sandy."
And according to Sunday, when Brackbill later admitted to his girlfriend that he killed the 52-year-old Mulder in his basement room of her Dillsburg-area home, he explained that, "Sandy pushed me too far this time."
Had a plan: Brackbill was angry, the prosecutor said. He'd been physically assaulted by his boss hours earlier, and he was jealous because he believed then-girlfriend Crystal Hughes, who was in Indiana, was cheating on him. He'd even cut off the alcohol-monitoring ankle cuff he was required to wear as part of his pending DUI case.
Brackbill told Hughes he was driving to Indiana to pick her up, Sunday said. But needed a vehicle — Mulder's vehicle, according to Sunday, which Brackbill was driving when he was arrested in Missouri two days later.
Couldn't breathe: When Mulder refused to loan him her car, Brackbill used duct tape to hog-tie her, Sunday said. Mulder suffered from respiratory issues and died of positional asphyxia, trial testimony revealed.
She could have died within minutes, Sunday said. In his closing argument he reviewed detailed phone records and physical evidence from the scene to try to convince jurors Brackbill murdered his friend.
Mulder's daughter and son-in-law found her dead inside her home in the 200 block of Chestnut Grove Road in Carroll Township.
Brackbill's glasses were found next to her body and his saliva was found on the back of her T-shirt, Sunday said.
Rush to judgment: But defense attorney Rick Robinson argued to jurors that Mulder willingly loaned Brackbill her car, and that police immediately focused on Brackbill without considering other suspects.
"For one reason: He's the roommate, and he's not there," he told the jury. "There was no investigation done, other than to get Bryan Brackbill."
Robinson also questioned the credibility of Hughes, who testified Brackbill confessed to killing Mulder. The attorney reminded jurors that she was high on crack, hadn't slept in nearly three days and has pending charges that include making false statements to police.
Hughes also testified that while on the phone with Brackbill she heard Mulder in the background saying she wouldn't let him use her car.
The charges: Brackbill, 34, who also goes by "Big Country," is charged with second- and third-degree murder and theft of a motor vehicle. Jurors will also be able to consider voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
The jury will reconvene at 9 a.m. Thursday so presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner can instruct them on the law before allowing them to begin deliberating the case.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.