A fatal fight over money on Kent’s East Hill

Man, 57, charged with murder of 33-year-old man

A fight over money in a Kent apartment complex parking lot left one man dead and another man charged with second-degree murder.

Curtis Leon Craft, 57, of Kent, has been charged in King County Superior Court for fatally stabbing Kurtis Robert Bruni, 33, of Kent, during a fight Sept. 14 in a parking lot at the Mosaic Hills Apartments, 10910 SE 238th St., on the East Hill, according to charging papers. Craft is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 1 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. He remains in the King County jail in Kent with bail set at $1 million.

Bruni moved to the Seattle area in 2017 from Michigan to work for United Parcel Service, according to his obituary. Services are set for Sept. 26 in Pickford, Michigan. He is survived by his parents, sister and grandparents who live in Michigan and a grandmother who lives in Ontario, Canada.

“Kurtis enjoyed snowboarding, golfing, hockey, basketball and playing video games,” according to his obituary. “He liked to garden, fish with his grandpa, go to (Detroit) Red Wing hockey games with his dad and beat his mom at a good game of Scrabble. He took pleasure vacationing with his family and traveling to different places to snowboard with his sister. He loved taking the family dog, Libby, for a car ride and playing a game of fetch.”

On the fatal night, Bruni, his girlfriend and her sister were hanging out in their apartment along with Craft, according to charging documents. The four decided to walk to a nearby store. During the walk, Bruni reportedly became upset with Craft about his missing money and the two began a heated argument. Craft said he wasn’t going to give Bruni his money back.

Craft allegedly pulled out a knife and Bruni hit him in the head with a plastic bottle, according to witnesses. The two men ended up on the ground fighting each other. Craft ended up on top and stabbed Bruni, who died of a stab wound to his chest, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. Craft also stabbed Bruni twice in the back, but the examiner found those to be non-life threatening wounds.

Kent Police officers responded to a report of a man lying on the ground in the apartment parking lot. Officers found Bruni lying motionless on his back, partially on a curb and some shrubs. Life-saving measures by officers and paramedics were unsuccessful and Bruni died at the scene.

Meanwhile, Craft reportedly calmly walked away from the scene. Officers arrested him later in the day as he walked away from his residence on the East Hill. Craft agreed to talk to detectives and told them he acted in self-defense with the stabbing after Bruni threw a plastic soda bottle that hit him in the head and that Bruni punched, kicked and tried to choke him. Craft said he didn’t have any injuries from the fight.

Craft told police he hid the knife in his backyard. Detectives found the knife in the yard. It was a fixed-blade combat knife with a 5-inch blade. Detectives also recovered clothes from Craft’s residence that he had worn the night of the fight. The clothing had stains consistent with dried blood, according to charging documents.

“The defendant in this case repeatedly stabbed a man during a fight over money,” wrote Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jessica Berliner in charging papers. “Although he clams he was acting in self-defense, it appears the final and fatal blow was delivered when the unarmed victim no longer posed a threat to the defendant.”

Berliner wrote that after the killing, Craft went back to his house to hide the knife and then returned to the scene of the crime where he observed the police response.

“Despite his acknowledged awareness that he had killed a man and the obvious police presence, the defendant declined to turn himself in,” Berliner wrote.

Craft has a significant criminal history, although much of it is older, according to charging papers. He has seven felony convictions for theft, identity theft, forgery, unlawful issuance of checks and similar charges from 1998 to 2004. He has an attempt to elude and unlawful possession of a firearm in 2003; and eight criminal assault or fourth-degree assault, including multiple domestic violence offenses, from 1991 to 1995.

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