The trial of Rebecca Louisa Bryan, accused of killing her husband, Nichols Hills Fire Chief Keith Bryan, begins today in Canadian County. The 52-year-old Mustang woman is accused of shooting her husband to death on September 20, 2011, and blaming the death on an intruder with a vendetta against the fire chief.
First Degree Murder Charges
Police quickly uncovered evidence implicating Rebecca Bryan in the death of her husband, and she was charged with first degree murder. Prosecutors say that Rebecca Bryan seemed remarkably calm and without emotion when police arrived at the scene of her husband's death. They discovered a gun in a clothes dryer along with a blanket that had three gunshot holes on it. They say a shell casing and bullet matched those found in an ammunition box in the family's home.
They also say that Mrs. Bryan had an affair prior to her husband's death, and that only hours before his killing, she called her ex-lover and told him that she was going to be inheriting a large sum of money and that she was considering buying a house near him.
At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution's witnesses testified that Rebecca Bryan was unfaithful to her husband, and that although Keith Bryan thought they were working on their marriage and trying to restore their relationship, she seemed obsessed with winning back her former lover. Mark Holbrook testified that he had an affair with Rebecca Bryan in 2009. He said he attempted to end the relationship, but Mrs. Bryan continued to pursue her. He says that he told Keith Bryan about the affair, and that Mr. Bryan was very forgiving.
However, Holbrook says that Rebecca Bryan did not give up, continuing to contact him even when he would hang up on her or refuse to answer her calls. He testified that he had not heard from Mrs. Bryan in some time when she called him 3 hours before her husband's shooting. He said that when he realized who was on the phone, he hung up on her. She then continued to call him, leaving the incriminating message about how she would soon be the recipient of a large inheritance.
A friend of Rebecca Bryan testified at the preliminary hearing that Mrs. Bryan showed her a cell phone picture of a man's penis and said she felt guilty about the shooting because she had sex with the man in the picture earlier in the day. The friend testified that this disclosure occurred while they were en route to the hospital to check on Keith Bryan. Rebecca Bryan's defense lawyer says there are significant evidentiary problems with the prosecution's case.
There may be issues with probable cause, and the defense argues that police did not appropriately investigate other leads, including the theft of a similar gun belonging to Keith Bryan's son. Her attorney says that the juvenile accused of the burglary and theft of Kent Bryan's matching Ruger could be implicated in the fire chief's death.
He also questions why crime scene investigators did not take fingerprint evidence from the dryer in which the gun was allegedly found, and why there is no photographic evidence of a shell casing allegedly discovered in the laundry room. If convicted of first degree murder, Rebecca Bryan faces the possibility of life in prison without parole.