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May 21, 2013

Testimony begins in Brown capital murder trial

GREENVILLE — Stella Michelle “Doc” Ray was already a teacher for the Caddo Mills Independent School District two years ago, but had just earned her doctorate degree and was planning on taking a professorship at a college in Marshall.

Her mother, Donna Ray, recalled that Stella was planning to stop by her Greenville residence on the night of July 20, 2011, the day before she was to move to Marshall. Donna Ray said she fell asleep and was awakened by a phone call from Stella’s ex-husband, Micah Crofford Brown.

“He said, ‘I shot her in the head and she’s dead,’” Donna Ray said, as one of the first witnesses in Brown’s trial on a charge of capital murder.

Donna Ray said she was in the emergency room at Hunt Regional Medical Center when she received another call.

“It was Micah and he said, ‘See, I told you,’” Donna recalled.

Opening arguments and the start of testimony were conducted Monday during the first day of trial in the 354th District Court.

Testimony is scheduled to resume today. Judge Richard A. Beacom told jurors the trial is expected to take through next week.

Brown was indicted on one count of capital murder in connection with the shooting death of Stella Ray and has pleaded not guilty.

However, Brown’s defense counsel, Toby Wilkinson, said there was no doubt as to whether Brown shot and killed Ray.

“This is not a  who done it case,” Wilkinson said during his side of opening arguments. “This young man did it. This is a why did it case. Why did he do it?”

Wilkinson placed the blame for the killing on Ray, claiming there were two sides to the victim.

“To some people I’m sure she was wonderful,” Wilkinson said. “To others she was not.”

Wilkinson said the shooting came as the result of a dispute between Brown and Ray concerning the couple’s two small children, who were inside the PT Cruiser Ray was driving on the night she was killed.

“She pushed his buttons and unfortunately it turned out bad for her,” Wilkinson said. “She didn’t let him know where the kids are.”

Prosecutors have announced they intend to seek death by lethal injection as a punishment for Brown, should he be convicted of capital murder.

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