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Friday, August 26, 2016

The Rebecca Bryan Murder Case

     In 2011, Rebecca "Becky" Bryan, a 51-year-old real estate agent, lived in the Oklahoma City suburb of Mustang with her 53-year-old husband Keith. Keith Bryan, a firefighter since 1981, was chief of the fire department in Nichols Hill, an affluent town north of Oklahoma City. The couple had two grown sons.

     In January 2010, Becky filed for a divorce but didn't follow through with the process. Unhappy in her marriage, she was having an affair with a married man she had met in 2009 at a real estate conference. The two had talked about having a new life together. In early September 2011, Becky texted a message to a friend about inheriting, at some point in the near future, a large amount of money that would allow her to move to another part of the state.

     On Tuesday night, September 20, 2011, Becky Bryan called 911 to report the shooting of her husband by an intruder. To officers with the Mustang Police Department, Becky described her horrific experience. She and Keith had been sitting on their living room couch watching television when a hooded man in his 20s or 30s entered the house through the garage door and shot her husband, from point-blank range, in the back of the head. The victim never knew what hit him.

     According to Becky, after the intruder shot Keith, he told her that Kieth should have hired him at the fire department. The blond-haired man left the dwelling the way he had entered. He drove from the house in a pickup truck Becky described in detail.

     Keith Bryan died a few hours later at a nearby hospital. On her way to that hospital with a friend, Becky showed the acquaintance a cellphone photograph she had taken that day of her lover's genitals. The friend, stunned by Becky's demeanor, chalked it up to stress. The authorities feared that a madman was on the loose with a grudge against the Nichols Hill Fire Department.

     Detectives, pursuant to routine homicide investigation protocol, swabbed Becky's hands for traces of gun powder. According to the gunshot residue analysis, she had recently fired a gun with her left hand.

     Just hours after the murder, detectives searched the Bryan house. In the clothes dryer, officers found, wrapped in a lap blanket, a .380-caliber Ruger LCP handgun, a spent shell casing, and a left hand rubber glove. (The glove would test positive for gunshot residue.) The blanket contained four bullet holes. Investigators theorized that the killer had used the folded blanket to shield himself or herself from the victim's blood. It tested positive for gunshot residue as well. Detectives noted that the utility room that housed the clothes dryer was not along the path the intruder would have taken out of the dwelling.

     Between the mattress and the box springs in the master bedroom, detectives found the box the Ruger  pistol had come in as well as a box of .380-caliber rounds. A state firearms identification expert identified the Ruger found in the dryer as the gun that had fired the fatal bullet.

     On September 23, 2011, just three days after Becky Bryan informed the police that an intruder had shot her husband, a county prosecutor charged her with first-degree murder. Detectives arrested Becky early that afternoon at the hotel where she was staying. Booked into the county jail in El Reno, and denied bond, the suspect continued to claim that her husband Keith had been murdered by a hooded man.

     The Bryan murder trial began on May 16, 2013 before Judge Gary E. Miller. Assistant District Attorney Paul Hesse believed he could prove, circumstantially with the physical evidence--the blanket, the rubber glove, the .380-caliber handgun identified as the murder weapon, and the gunshot residue on the defendant's left hand--her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor also had a motive: life insurance and a new start with a lover. Blessed with motive and physical evidence linking Becky to the murder, the prosecutor didn't need an eyewitness or a confession. The evidence was circumstantial, but solid.

     After two days of scientific testimony from the medical examiner--a firearms identification expert, an analyst who connected the defendant to the rubber glove through DNA, and a blood spatter specialist who explained the purpose of the blanket found in the dryer--prosecutor Hesse had proven the state's case. For final measure he put on several witnesses on the stand who provided details regarding the defendant's extramarital sexual activities.

     Defense attorney Gary James, without much to work with, tried to keep the intruder theory alive in the minds of the jurors. He presented several character witness from the ranks of the defendant's social circle and family. Her brother testified that "Becky has always been a person who helped people. She was the person who would pick up a wounded puppy." On cross-examination these defense witnesses had difficulty explaining and justifying the defendants inappropriate behavior just after the murder.

     The defense rested without putting Becky Bryan on the stand. Attorney James, in his closing remarks to the jury, tried to paint the detectives on the case as tunnel-visioned and sloppy. The attorney wondered why the crime scene investigator didn't process the clothes dryer for latent fingerprints to rule out an intruder. Moreover, he didn't understand why the police didn't review surveillance camera footage for images of a pickup truck that matched the description provided by his client.

     On May 21, 2013, less than a week after the Bryan trial began, the jury found the defendant guilty as charged. The jurors needed only four hours to come to that conclusion. After the verdict was read, attorney James hugged his client and said he was sorry. (The defense attorney was not responsible for the guilty verdict.) On July 9, 2013, Judge Miller, following Oklahoma law, sentenced Becky Bryan to life without parole.

   In March 2014, Rebecca Bryan filed an appeal citing the unconstitutional admission of certain evidence as well as ineffective counsel. She claimed she had been denied a fair trial. On December 12, 2014, justices with the Oklahoma Court of Appeals upheld the conviction.

     

6 comments:

  1. Justice was done, in my opinion

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    1. Any update on the Appeal filed in July of 2013 ?

      I think she should have tried for an Insanity defense .
      The woman by all I have read is crazy. I do feel sorry for her boys.

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    2. I just watched a true crime show on this case. I wondered the same thing about the appeal. on line I watched an interview with the foreman of the jury. she said it was the 911 calls and the gun in the dryer that convinced her that Becky was guilty She wanted out of her marriage and she wanted her husband gone for good ! I wonder how she lives with her self.

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  2. I worked at the fire department with Keith and attended the trial.The appeal wasn't filed until March of 2014 and it's in the Appellate Court Judges possession now. It may be several months before he makes a ruling but it's extremely doubtful it will be granted. There are a couple of minor inaccuracies in this story. One, the fire department was never shut down or locked down. We knew from the beginning we were in no danger here. The defense called a witness who said there was a man going door-to-door in their neighborhood looking for work and it may have been him who killed Keith. Second, the prosecution never used life insurance money as a motive, their theory was Becky still wanted to be with her lover and she thought this event would bring them back together. Their sons are doing well considering what they have been through.

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    1. The person you mentioned , about neighbor who seen and talked to a man going door to door was me. Keith was my neighbor, and I new him pretty well, and I shutter to think that If I didn't try to help if I knew anything , for all the people he , helped and protected, being a public official would be un-American. especially if his wife , was the one that was accused. New York Media ,have tried to pay me for my story, interview me , fly me to New York , but I said NO I'm not doing this for money , and besides you won't tell all the facts of what I think all you will do is make a story to fit your papper,I testified for Brian, And to this day I don't believe the outcome of this case . Not a smart person and don't know forensic science, but if there was power on her left hand could she have gotten it rubbing on his head or being near when the offence occurred don't know But there's more to this case than one would think in my opinion

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  3. Defense attorneys Crack me up. Why didn't the po po do this and that? Lol maybe because they found the murder weapon in the house and the box it came in you moron lmao.

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