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Murder trial testimony: Ex-lover said wife called him hours before Nichols Hills fire chief's shooting

BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Modified: May 9, 2013 at 10:27 pm •  Published: May 9, 2013

— Rebecca Bryan's former lover testified at her murder trial Thursday that she left him a distraught voice mail hours before her husband was shot, telling him she still loved him and hoped to be near him soon.

A longtime friend also testified Thursday that Bryan's behavior was so offensive in the hours after her husband's shooting that she could not stay to support her.

Bryan, 54, is on trial in the murder of Keith Bryan, 52, the Nichols Hills fire chief who was shot to death Sept. 20, 2011, in the Mustang home he shared with his wife of 33 years. Rebecca Bryan blamed an intruder who she said walked into the house at 1320 W Rose Hill Drive and shot Keith Bryan before apologizing and saying the fire chief should have hired him.

Mark Holbrook had an extramarital affair with Rebecca Bryan from August 2009 to January 2010, which prompted her to file for divorce. The Bryans reconciled after the affair ended.

Holbrook testified that Becky Bryan continued to give him unwanted attention long after he decided to break it off and vowed to Keith Bryan that he would not contact her again.

Bryan called him about 7 p.m. the night her husband was shot and left a voice mail that he listened to the next day.

“She sounded like she had been crying or had been drinking or maybe both,” Holbrook said. “She said in the message that she still loved me. She wanted to be near me. She said she was fixing to get a large inheritance and was thinking about buying a home in Hugo to be near me.”

Holbrook erased the message, like he did every other voice mail and text message she sent him after their affair ended.

“I just couldn't stand to have her on my phone,” he said.

The next day he found out Keith Bryan had been shot to death. He immediately called the OSBI. Agents came to his home in Hugo Sept. 24 and helped him record a phone conversation with Bryan.

That recording was played for the jury, but the poor quality made it difficult to understand. Jurors will get a chance to listen to it more closely when they are deliberating the case.

Also testifying Thursday was Jana Hickman, wife of Mustang Fire Chief Carl Hickman. She knew the Bryans for more than 20 years through the men's fire service. A Mustang firefighter called Carl Hickman shortly after Bryan called 911 to report her husband had been shot.

The Hickmans went to the Bryan home, arriving just after an ambulance took Keith Bryan from the scene. Hickman went to the back porch to be with Becky Bryan.

She testified that Becky Bryan was talking and laughing on the phone for hours while police investigated and her husband was fighting for his life at OU Medical Center, where he later died.

Hickman said Becky Bryan retold the story of her husband's shooting to numerous people over the phone, describing graphic details like his eyes bulging as he convulsed and blood gushing from his head.

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