Judge denies motion from Marc, Misty Ray to sever, dismiss charges

Allison Ullmann - Staff
Misty Ray and hear lawyers wait for the start of the change of venue hearing at the Dallas County Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, in Adel. PHOTO BY BRYON HOULGRAVE/DES MOINES REGISTER

Judge Terry Rickers denied two motions on Sept. 12 submitted by Marc and Misty Ray, who stand accused of 17 charges related to the death of their 16-year-old, adopted daughter, Sabrina Ray.

Court records show the judge dismissed two motions filed by the Ray’s separate attorneys to sever Counts 15, 16 and 17 from Counts 1-12 and dismiss Count 12.

Attorneys for the Rays filed a motion to sever Counts 15, 16 and 17 from Counts 1-14. The charges, filed on May 2, include ongoing criminal conduct - unlawful activity, first degree theft and first degree fraudulent practice.

Rickers heard the reasons behind the motion during a hearing on Aug. 22 at the Dallas County Courthouse.

Misty Ray’s defense attorney Sean Spellman argued during the hearing that the financial charges were brought much later in the case. He added that those charges would affect the defense’s ability for a fair trial as the jury would find it difficult to “compartmentalize the different offenses.”

Assistant County Attorney Stacy Ritchie said on Aug. 22 that the State contends all of the charges revolve around the same evidence and the same witnesses.

Ritchie added that Counts 15, 16 and 17 provide a financial motive for Counts 1-12. By separating the charges, she said, they would not provide the jury with sufficient information to make a decision.

Rickers also heard a motion from both defendants asking to dismiss Count 12, on the charge of first-degree murder, during the Aug. 22 hearing.

In the motion, the defense said the Rays “contend that the State has violated their right to a speedy indictment and the murder charge should therefore be dismissed with prejudice.”

Spellman said during the Aug. 22 hearing that nearly 138 days had passed between the initial arrest of Misty Ray and when the first-degree murder charge was brought.

Ritchie said during the hearing that the State needed time to gather evidence before filing the first-degree murder charge.

In the motion, the State said the Rays were never arrested for murder in the first degree. The charge was not brought until the State filed an application to amend the trial information on Oct. 3. The State went on to add that the “Rays’ right to a speedy indictment was never violated.”

Both motions were denied by Rickers on Sept. 12.

Rickers approved a change of venue motion on Aug. 22. The Rays will be tried in Woodbury County on Feb. 4, 2019.