Expert rips Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation's handling of murder case

The defense rested its case Monday afternoon in the Rebecca Bryan murder trial. Both sides are scheduled to give closing statements Tuesday morning before the case is turned over to the jury.
BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Modified: May 20, 2013 at 10:15 pm •  Published: May 20, 2013

— A crime scene investigation expert ripped OSBI agents Monday for their handling of the murder case against Rebecca Bryan.

Ed Hueske, a forensics trainer and consultant who worked for years as a crime scene investigator for several law enforcement agencies, spent most of Monday on the witness stand in Rebecca Bryan's murder trial.

Bryan, 54, is accused of murdering her husband, Nichols Hills Fire Chief Keith Bryan, 52. He was shot to death Sept. 20, 2011, at their Mustang home, 1320 W Rose Hill Drive.

She blamed an intruder who she said walked into the house and shot Keith Bryan before apologizing and telling her the fire chief should have hired him.

Prosecutors claim Rebecca Bryan — obsessed with a former lover who had called off an extramarital affair with her in 2010 — shot her husband with a pistol she kept in her purse, covering the gun with a throw blanket as she approached him on the couch in the couple's living room.

The gun, blanket and other evidence were found in the dryer in the utility room, which was not on the path Rebecca Bryan said the intruder took into and out of the house. The gun was matched to a bullet found in the couch cushion where her husband was shot.

Hueske was hired by Rebecca Bryan's attorney to review the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation's handling of the case. He testified that OSBI agents should have tested more evidence at the scene for fingerprints, footprints and DNA.

He was particularly critical of the decision not to fingerprint or DNA test the gun and the dryer where the evidence was found.

“I don't understand it,” Hueske said. “I can't even fathom why you wouldn't do that. It's just fundamental.”

On cross-examination, Hueske acknowledged much of his criticism was about policies and procedures that wouldn't have necessarily helped identify Keith Bryan's killer. He also said there was nothing in the evidence he reviewed that would disprove the prosecution's contention that Rebecca Bryan shot her husband.

Hueske said some of the steps he suggested would be complicated and time-consuming and that the urgency of an active homicide investigation would make it difficult to conduct every recommended step.

But he did not waiver from his opinion that agents skipped important steps that might have identified who handled the gun and who placed the evidence in the dryer.

“This is a situation where we have a huge jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing,” Hueske said.

The defense rested its case Monday afternoon. Prosecutor's called Rebecca Bryan's son, Trent Bryan, to the stand as a rebuttal witness.

The defense has contended that Rebecca Bryan left her purse in her sport utility vehicle in the couple's garage, where it could have been picked up by the intruder on his way into the house.

Trent Bryan testified his mother told him she took the gun into the house that day after she returned from a trip to Tulsa, unloading it and leaving it on the bathroom counter.

Both sides are scheduled to give closing statements Tuesday morning before the case is turned over to the jury.

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