EL RENO — Despite defense efforts to point out inconsistent evidence collection at the scene, a judge ordered a Mustang woman to stand trial in the Sept. 20 shooting death of her husband, the Nichols Hills fire chief.
Special Judge Jack McCurdy II ruled Wednesday that evidence provided during a preliminary hearing was sufficient for Rebecca L. Bryan, 52, to be brought to trial on a count of first-degree murder.
She is accused of shooting her husband, Keith Bryan, 52, inside their Mustang home at 1320 W Rose Hill Drive. He suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was taken to a hospital, where he died the next morning.
In a 911 phone call, Rebecca Bryan blamed an intruder for the shooting. She was arrested after a handgun, which investigators said was used in the shooting, was found in the clothes dryer inside her home.
A blanket with three round holes also was inside the dryer. One investigator testified that it looked like something had been shot through it.
Bryan is scheduled to appear for arraignment May 22 in El Reno. Canadian County District Attorney Mike Fields said counsels will agree on a trial date at the arraignment and move forward with the case.
Defense attorney Gary James said Wednesday that he expects many of the evidence issues to be challenged at the trial, including the gun that investigators say was used in the shooting and gunshot residue allegedly found on Bryan's hands.
During testimony, James questioned agents about why crime scene analysts didn't take fingerprints from the dryer or photos of a shell casing that was found in the utility room.
“I think we found some things that challenge the issue of probable cause. First-degree murder cases ... (it's) very rare if you're going to be kicked out of the preliminary hearing level,” James said.
Friends and relatives attended the second half of Bryan's preliminary hearing Wednesday and heard testimony from three Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents. The hearing was continued from March 14.
Agent Martin Solorzano testified about his interaction with Rebecca Bryan and her demeanor after her husband was shot.
He said he was called to investigate the shooting about 11 p.m. Sept. 20. He said Bryan seemed calm and wasn't showing emotion when he interviewed her at the hospital.
“She seemed to be put together pretty good,” he said. “She seemed to be pretty confident.”
Rebecca Bryan's friend Debbie Proctor testified March 14 that Bryan showed her and a few others a picture on her phone of another man's penis, while they were en route to the hospital to check on Keith Bryan. She testified that Bryan told them she had sex with the man, one of her real estate clients, earlier that day and felt guilty because of the shooting.
Agent Shawn Wright reported that Bryan also called another man she'd had an affair with in 2009 on the night of the shooting, saying “she still loved him … and that she was thinking of buying a house near where” he lives. According to court records, Bryan also told him she “was going to be inheriting a significant amount of money.”
During the preliminary hearing, Wright testified that he searched the master bedroom and bathroom and found several boxes of ammunition under the couple's mattress on what appeared to be Rebecca Bryan's side of the bed.
He said he also found two gun boxes near the ammunition and one empty gun box on Keith Bryan's side of the bed. A Ruger .380-caliber gun box underneath Rebecca Bryan's side was empty but had a receipt inside, detailing Keith Bryan's purchase of the firearm in 2009, Wright testified.
Investigators later found the handgun in the utility room. Wright said the serial number “happened to be a match to the box I found in the master bedroom.”
James said Keith Bryan bought two Ruger .380-caliber handguns in March 2009 for Rebecca Bryan and their son, Kent Bryan. He said Kent Bryan reported his firearm stolen in April 2011 after a burglary at his residence.
A juvenile accused of the burglary was charged Feb. 24 and could have a connection to the shooting of Keith Bryan, James said after the hearing. Investigators said they didn't know enough about the burglary to give testimony about it Wednesday.
Wright testified the gun missing from Keith Bryan's side of the bed hasn't been recovered. He said the gun box wasn't taken from the home as evidence or photographed.