When Christian Mayberry entered the courtroom to testify in the trial of the woman accused of leaving him in a ditch after at ATV crash on Sept. 1, 2013, everyone in the courtroom stood in silence.
Mayberry, above, was accompanied by George Bormann, left, of the Sequoyah County Sheriff's Office and Les Morton with the District 27 Task Force, right.
As a result of the crash, Mayberry suffered a traumatic brain injury which he has been striving to overcome ever since. He was 16 at the time of the injury and is now 18.
Angela Gray, 40, is accused of driving the ATV on the evening of Sept. 1, 2013, and is charged with failure to stop at an accident resulting in non-fatal injury, a felony, and two misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of minors and selling or furnishing alcoholic beverages to minors.
The trial began Monday in Sequoyah County District Court in Sallisaw, and testimony concluded on Wednesday. District Judge Jeff Payton sent the six-man, six-woman jury home Wednesday afternoon so the instructions to the jury could be written. The trial will continue Thursday morning with closing arguments, and the instructions, before the jury retires to deliberations.
Wednesday's testimony included that of Mayberry.
Mayberry was able to relate, under questioning by prosecuting attorney Michael Ashworth, that he played football, mainly on the defense side, for the Muldrow Bulldogs, and was number 75. He related he was on an ATV with Angela Gray on Sept. 1, 2013, when he got hurt, and that Gray was driving.
"No," he said when asked if he was driving. The prosecution contends Gray was driving, crashed the ATV, then left Mayberry laying in the ditch from about 9:04 p.m. on Sept. 1, 2013, to shortly after midnight the next morning, while she, her son, Joey, and his friend, Kyle Brannon, cleaned up and disposed of beer cans at the scene.
Mayberry testified, "My brain hit hard." He added later that he felt like he was going "round and round."
He testified he could hear Angela Gray, Joey Gray and Brannon talking at the scene. Mayberry testified he heard them say, "We got to get out of here fast."
Under cross examination by defense attorney Gary Buckles of Poteau, Mayberry was a bit confused about some questions, particularly about where he worked before the injury, but finally did recall that he worked at Piggly Wiggly.
Mayberry said, "I went out (of the ATV) maybe on the left, and rolled on the ground. It might have been the right side. I'm not certain."
He testified, "I knew I was dying." And he repeated he heard Angela Gray say, "We've got to get out of here before we get caught by the police."
Mayberry also related to Buckles how his recovery has progressed, "When I came back to earth from Heaven..."
The prosecution rested after Mayberry testified.
Buckles called three witnesses, Angela Gray, and also Gerald and Rachel Griffin, who said they are and remain good friends with Gray. They all testified to a similar set of circumstances, until they parted, on the evening of Sept. 1, 2013.
At one point in the evening Gray's son, Joey, arrived at the river in his pickup truck with Brannon and Mayberry. Shortly after Joey Gray and Brannon left in the truck, leaving Mayberry behind. The Griffins and Gray said they waited by the river for a while, hoping that the boys would come back for Mayberry but they did not.
The Griffins, Gray and Mayberry then went to a place known as the shale pit to ride the ATV. Rachael Griffin said she did not like riding in the shale pit, and she watched the others as the others drove the ATV there for 30 to 45 minutes.
The four then returned to Wayne Griffin's house where Gerald and Rachel Griffin loaded up to go home north of Muldrow. Gerald Griffin said they left for home at 11:37 p.m. Rachel Griffin said they arrived home at 11:55 p.m. because that is when she texted her son that he could come home from a neighbor's house. Rachael Griffin testified she had saved the text in the cell phone, and, after consulting with Judge Payton, the cell phone text was entered into evidence.
The testimony of the Griffins and Gray was in opposition to others earlier in the trial which suggested the accident occurred at about 9 p.m. but help was not called for until after midnight.
Gerald Griffin testified he had been drinking and had consumed about 16 beers throughout the evening. Rachael Griffin said she had only had a couple of beers, while Gray testified she had drunk seven beers over the evening.
After the Griffins left, Gray testified, Mayberry slid into the ATV's driver's seat and drove back toward the river even though she had not given him permission to do so.
Gray testified, "He missed the turn and wrecked." Gray said Mayberry fell out of the side of the ATV, and was unconscious. Shortly afterwards Joey Gray and Brannon arrived in Joey's pickup truck.
"I was screaming to call 911," Gray testified, "but we couldn't get a signal." Gray said reception to the bottoms was erratic, her cell phone had quit working, and they could not contact 911 for help. She testified she took Joey Gray's pickup back to Wayne Griffin's to call for help, but could not rouse him from sleep.
When asked what time that was, Gray testified, "I was too panicked to know."
Gray testified she also went to the home of a friend, Chicago Chandler, to call for help. But Chandler testified on Tuesday that Gray came to her home and said her son Joey was in an accident and that she needed to call him. She asked that Chandler and her boyfriend take her to the scene of the accident. Chandler testified that at about 1:45 a.m. on Sept. 2, 2013, they drove back to the scene and ran into OHP Trooper Jeremy Weedon, who had arrived to investigate the accident. The call to 911 arrived at 12:04 a.m. Sept. 2, 2013. and Mayberry had already been transported by ambulance to a Fort Smith hospital.
Weedon testified that he found Joey Gray and Kyle Brannon to be intoxicated, and had placed them under arrest for public drunk. When Angela Gray arrived, Weedon testified he was tempted to also arrest her on the same charge, but believed she had been called to the scene because of her son's arrest as a juvenile. Weedon testified that at no time during that night did Angela Gray inform him that she had been present at the time of the accident. When she became argumentative with him, Weedon testified, he ordered her back into the truck driven by Chandler and her boyfriend.
Gray complied, he testified, and Joey was released into his mother's custody while Brannon was taken to the county jail.
Weedon testified that it was hard to investigate the accident scene since Mayberry had already been transported to the hospital due to the seriousness of his injury, and because Joey Gray and Brannon had already moved the ATV.
Under cross examination by Ashworth, Gray said, "Yes," she did leave the scene. She said there were differences in the statement she wrote and signed for Weedon and her testimony. She testified, "I could have wrote a better statement."
She testified that she and her husband discussed the situation and at one point decided she would not talk about being present when the crash occurred unless directly asked.
About testimony by Cade Matthews that he saw Angela Gray driving the ATV, with Mayberry in the passenger's seat, at Curt's, Gray testified, "That's a lie. He did not see that."
Recalled to the stand, Matthews testified he never saw the Griffins with Gray at Curt's.
The prosecution and defense closing arguments will begin the fourth day of the trial at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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