EL RENO — 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.
“She was laughing, all the time talking about terrible things,” Hickman said. “I just couldn't understand it. There was nothing funny that I could hear on her side of the conversation.”
Prosecutors have tried to portray Rebecca Bryan as lacking emotion and behaving inappropriately in the hours after the shooting. Previous witnesses described her showing off a photo of another man's penis as they drove to the hospital. She said she had sex with the man earlier that day.
Hickman said Bryan's strange behavior started almost as soon as she arrived at the house.
She was on the phone nearly nonstop for several hours while close friends and family sat on the back porch and police started investigating, Hickman said. She told several people Keith Bryan had died even though she was told by others that he was still alive and going into surgery at the hospital.
“While she was on the phone she said she would be planning a funeral for the next three or four days,” Hickman said. “I said, ‘Becky, no he is still alive.' She said, ‘Really?'”
Becky Bryan also complained that it would be difficult to sell her home if people knew someone had died in it, Hickman said.
What most offended Hickman, though, was Becky Bryan's laughter. Hickman sobbed on the stand as she talked about Keith Bryan's death. She said she eventually had to leave the scene because her emotions got the better of her.
“I couldn't hold it together,” Hickman said. “I couldn't be strong because I loved Keith.”
Hickman and another witness, EMSA paramedic James McClung, also gave testimony that the story Becky Bryan told them was different from the version she gave police.
Both said Bryan told them she was coming into the living room from the bedroom when she saw the intruder standing over her husband. She told police she was sitting on a chair in the living room when the intruder walked in and shot Keith Bryan.
McClung also told the jury Becky Bryan was more concerned with preserving fingerprints in the living room than the well being of her husband.
“She was excited about us not touching anything,” McClung said. “Not once was I asked how he was doing, if he was still alive.”
Bryan's defense attorney has argued the couple had a strained marriage but reconciled before the shooting.
Investigators turned their attention to Rebecca Bryan after they found a gun, a glove, a shell casing and a blanket with bullet holes in the dryer in the home's utility room. The gun, which belonged to the Bryans, was later identified as the weapon used to shoot Keith Bryan.
Testimony in the case is scheduled to continue Friday. Mark Holbrook is expected to resume his testimony and be cross-examined.