ARAPAHO — The Wilsons couldn’t stand to see their teenage daughter, JaRay, this way, a skeleton in Converse sneakers.
So when prosecutors displayed crime scene photos onto the wall of a Custer County courtroom during a hearing Monday, mother Jara Wilson shielded her eyes and turned. She wants to remember her daughter as the 16-year-old girl with a pierced smile who was well-liked and befriended everybody she met.
In the preliminary hearing, a Custer County judge ruled that enough evidence exists for Tucker McGee, 19, to face trial in the 2012 death of JaRay Mickell Wilson. The victim’s remains were found more than a year after she disappeared.
A 17-year-old witness described what he saw when Wilson was shot, and how he helped McGee bury her body in a rural area north of Weatherford called “Marijuana Field.” The 17-year-old, identified by prosecutors as “C.G.,” will receive a plea deal in exchange for his cooperation. He led authorities to the body last December.
McGee, of Weatherford, was arrested shortly after the body was found and was charged Dec. 20 with first-degree murder. He remains in the Custer County jail.
The witness said he drove McGee and Wilson to the field and pulled off the road so they could smoke K2 — a synthetic marijuana that has sent users to hospital emergency rooms reporting psychotic effects.
C.G. said the trio smoked K2 for two-and-a-half hours, though Wilson was mostly sending text messages on her phone rather than smoking with them. McGee had shown C.G. a gun earlier that day, and joked about shooting Wilson, which C.G. brushed off as sarcasm, he testified.
At some point, McGee’s relaxed demeanor changed, and he removed the gun from the car and tucked it into his waistband, said C.G., a tall, lanky teen who wore baggy, belted slacks to court.
Alone on a rural road with the two young men, Wilson sensed something bad was going to happen, a series of text messages she exchanged with her friend that night reveal. Witness Trey John testified that he sent Wilson a text message, asking where she was.
She said she was “with Cody and Tucker,” and said she needed to leave. When he asked why, she responded “I feel sketched out.” She continued: “I can’t go home?” He never heard from her again.
Witness ‘didn’t want to know’
C.G. testified that he told McGee and Wilson he was going to buy methamphetamine, but as he started driving away, he heard a gunshot and in his rear view mirror, saw McGee shoot Wilson in the head. He made a U-turn and went back.
McGee was “freaking out,” and shot her a second time, C.G. stated in the courtroom of Custer County Judge Jill Carpenter Weedon on Monday. He helped McGee hoist the girl over a fence and they concealed her body behind some trees. Another friend, Caleb McLemore, met up with the young men and they went to smoke more K2, he said.
Assistant District Attorney Angela Marsee questioned whether C.G. asked McGee why he shot Wilson.
“No, I didn’t want to know,” he said. “Whatever it was, it wasn’t good.”
C.G. said the next day, McLemore drove them back to the area, and he and McGee took turns digging a grave using a snow shovel — a feat that took several hours — then buried her.
He didn’t reveal those details when questioned by investigators in November 2012, or when testifying in front of the multicounty grand jury in December 2013. But days later, he started cooperating with investigators and led them to her body — 14 months after she was reported missing.
Caleb McLemore, 19, is charged with being an accessory; he is accused of driving McGee back to the field to bury Wilson’s body. C.G., the 17-year-old witness, will be charged as an adult and sentenced to probation, prosecutors said.