Bushman Sentenced for Arthur Palmer’s Death


The man convicted of the murder of La Crescenta resident Arthur Palmer, 73, was sentenced on Tuesday to a total of 56 years to life.

On May 2, a jury found David Bushman, 47, of Gardena guilty of murder in the first degree. His sentencing had been postponed to this past Tuesday. Superior Court Judge Darrell Mavis, who issued the sentence, took into consideration Bushman’s prior convictions, including those in 1991, 2003 and 2009, for felonies including robbery and false imprisonment.

During the trial the jury heard Palmer, who lived in the 3000 block of Frances Avenue in La Crescenta, described as a small elderly man, weighing about 120 pounds who kept mostly to himself. His neighbor appeared to be one of the few people who Palmer could consider a friend. It was that neighbor who was worried after he hadn’t seen him for several days. Palmer was last seen on July 21, 2015. The neighbor went over to Palmer’s home on July 24 and saw what he thought was his friend lying on the ground in the garage. He called 9-1-1. Deputies arrived to find Palmer deceased.

Det. Dawn Retzlaff with LASD Homicide Bureau was the lead investigator in Palmer’s death.

“The first day we got prints so we knew [Bushman] was in the house,” Retzlaff said.

Although not a blood relative, Bushman was Palmer’s nephew through marriage and had been to his home in the past. During the investigation, Bushman told detectives he had never been allowed in the upstairs area of Palmer’s home; however, a palm print matching Bushman’s was found on a broken glass pane of a gun case near an upstairs bedroom.

Retzlaff said the print was easy to see on the glass.

“That put him there because the glass was broken recently,” she said. “That was our first real piece of physical evidence.”

In addition, she found that neighbors had seen Bushman in the area in the past, and some had information that he had threatened Palmer the year prior to his death.

Still, it was difficult to get information concerning Palmer.

“[Palmer] was extremely isolated,” Retzlaff said.

After the sentencing, Retzlaff said she felt proud that justice was served.

“I feel the citizens in La Crescenta can breathe easier,” she said.

Retzlaff said she got many calls from local residents during the first year of the investigation who were concerned about what had happened to Palmer.

“There was a lot of fear in the community,” she said.

Retzlaff said that everyone worked together to find the suspect and to get the conviction.

“The district attorney fought hard in the courtroom,” she added.

Ryan Erlich, deputy district attorney, said he was glad with Bushman’s sentencing.

“He won’t be eligible for parole for 56 years,” Erlich said.

He added he thought one of the most significant pieces of evidence in the case was from Retzlaff’s interview of Bushman. When he was told of Palmer’s death, he first asked, “Did he leave me anything?”

The recordings of the interview were played for the jury. Bushman was heard asking a couple of times if he was left anything by Palmer.

Another important part of the case was a paper that investigators found. It included steps Bushman was to take to deal with his estate as he contemplated moving to Canada. Bushman was homeless at the time of his arrest without an estate.

As the case progressed, Erlich told jurors how the murder played out, that phone records indicated that Bushman was in the area of Palmer’s home during the time of the murder, and that Palmer was afraid of Bushman.

“Based on the evidence, a conflict [between Palmer and Bushman] began upstairs then continued downstairs where Mr. Palmer was killed,” Erlich said.

Palmer died of blunt force trauma to the head. It was determined that the murder weapon was a mallet.

Erlich said the phone records that put Bushman in the neighborhood were invaluable in the case.

“When I talk to people they always want to know why [the crime was committed],” he said. “I don’t know if we will ever know.”

Bushman has the right to appeal, which he will most likely do, but Erlich feels the case against him is solid and the trial was conducted properly.