Bruce Ashley sentenced to life in prison for murder of liquor store owner

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SHAWNEE, Kan. -- A family finally has closure for a murder that happened four years ago. During a liquor store robbery, the owner was killed.

On Friday, the Johnson County District Court ruled the man who pulled the trigger is guilty. It was a good day for the Grovenburgs.

"I don't know if we ever felt for certain that we would get this and with the result of the trial, we were very happy with the verdict," said Duane Grovenburg of his older brother's death.

They waited more than four years to hear the penalty: life in prison. The Johnson County District Court judge sentenced Bruce Ashley to life for the murder of Gerry Grovenburg.

"He knew my brother, he targeted him because he knew he was older, he knew he had a stroke," said Duane.

Ashley attempted to rob Mr. G's Liquor Store in May 2010. Grovenburg was behind the counter when Ashley fatally shot him. In court, Ashley maintained his innocence and his family fully supported him.

"I do, you know, pray for Mr. Grovenburg's family every night. It's very sad what happened to him. They have the wrong man," said a woman who says she is the mother of Ashley's children.

She refused to give FOX 4 her name and reluctantly spoke about him.

"He's not a monster and the truth will come out," she said.

Bruce Ashley was sentenced to an additional 43 months for attempted aggravated robbery. His lawyer was not surprised by the results but intends to appeal.

"Inmates who were going to come forward indicate maybe one of the star witnesses for the state was not telling the truth," said Carl Cornwell, who represents Ashley.

The judge said this was an especially heinous crime since the 31-year-old knew Grovenburg and showed no remorse. Ashley never even addressed the Grovenburgs.

"Well, what is he going to say? I'm sorry for the family? When the judge says you have no remorse, you have no remorse for killing this guy. Well, you can't say," Cornwell said.

The overwhelming circumstantial evidence led to the life sentence. And it was exactly the closure the Grovenburgs have been waiting for. Gerry Grovenburg died two months before his retirement.

"It's just so heartbreaking that he didn't get to retire and enjoy that," said Widow Mary Ellen Grovenburg. "Justice is served and that's all we can ask for."

Bruce Ashley is expected to pay the Grovenburg’s $15,000 for the funeral. His lawyer says he will appeal early next week.

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