Crime

In letter, murder suspect expects life in prison, worries about lost vote for Clinton

Bruce Marchant arraigned in district court for 2016 rape, murder of Sierra Bush

Bruce A. Marchant, accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering Boise State student Sierra Bush, was arraigned in 4th District Court via video conference April 6, 2017 at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise.
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Bruce A. Marchant, accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering Boise State student Sierra Bush, was arraigned in 4th District Court via video conference April 6, 2017 at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise.

Accused murderer Bruce Marchant concedes, in a letter to the Idaho Statesman, that he will remain in prison “probably for the rest of my life.”

However, the Boise man didn’t write last week to talk about the criminal case facing him. Instead, Marchant wrote to complain about difficulties voting in last November’s presidential election.

Marchant is accused of killing Boise State University student Sierra Bush last September. Her naked body was found a month later in the mountains near Idaho City.

On Tuesday, an Ada County grand jury indicted Marchant, 61. As before, he faces charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and rape, according to a copy of the indictment reviewed by the Statesman.

The Ada County Prosecutor’s Office has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty if Marchant is convicted on the murder charge, said Brian Naugle, the deputy prosecutor handling the case.

The grand jury process is an alternative to a traditional preliminary hearing. Both processes are intended to determine if a case merits advancing to district court and a full trial.

Unlike a preliminary hearing, a grand jury hears evidence behind closed doors, allowing prosecutors and Bush’s family to avoid publicizing further details of the crimes. Previously, authorities said they tied Marchant to Bush through bloody gloves found in Marchant’s car. Marchant at one time was a tenant in a home owned by Bush’s father, Phil Bush.

In his letter, Marchant said he spent three weeks around the time of the election in the psychatric ward of the Milwaukee VA Medical Center in Wisconsin.

“There were 30 of us in there and we were not allowed to vote,” Marchant wrote in his one-page, handwritten letter.

Marchant said “most all of us” would have cast votes for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential race and claimed Clinton was cheated out of those votes.

“I think this needs looking into,” Marchant wrote.

Phil McGrane, Ada County’s chief elections official, said Wednesday he could find no record of Marchant being registered to vote here. Marchant would not have been eligible to vote in Wisconsin because he was not a resident of that state. Had he been registered in Ada County, it would have been his responsibility to ask for an absentee ballot.

A spokesman for the Milwaukee VA Medical Center could not be reached Wednesday afternoon. Joshua Callihan, spokesman for the Boise VA Medical Center, said that facility works to ensure veterans who want to vote can do so — including folks being treated in the hospital’s psychiatric unit.

“It seems very strange that a psychiatric unit at the VA would prevent veterans from voting,” Callihan said. “I can tell you at our medical center when it comes election time, veterans are afforded the ability to exercise their voting powers.”

Marchant, who once admitted to Idaho officials that he killed a man in prison, disappeared after Bush was killed and was arrested Dec. 8 at a different VA hospital in New York City. Investigators learned about his stay at the Wisconsin hospital sometime prior to his arrival in New York, Naugle said.

In April, Marchant told journalists in New York that he was innocent of rape and kidnapping, according to the New York Post.

Two former housemates of Marchant said he assaulted them in separate incidents at an Orchard Street house several years ago. And in early 2016 he was investigated for allegedly abusing a care worker.

Marchant’s next hearing will take place in district court on June 30, where he will be arraigned. He is being held without bail in the Ada County Jail.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell

Reporter Nicole Blanchard contributed.

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