Judge Rickers rejects Marc and Misty Ray’s motions

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Dallas County District Court Judge Terry Rickers heard the motions Aug. 22 of Marc and Misty Ray to dismiss first-degree murder charges and sever charges of fraud, theft and ongoing criminal conduct from the other charges facing the Perry couple. Rickers ruled on the petitions Wednesday. Photo by Zach Boyden-Holmes, the Des Moines Register

Misty Jo Bousman Ray, left, and Marc Ray will be tried in Woodbury County District Court beginning Feb. 4, 2019.

Dallas County District Court Judge Terry Rickers denied Wednesday a motion by the attorneys of Marc and Misty Ray to have first-degree murder charges dismissed against the Perry couple.

Rickers also denied the attorneys’ motion to separate the charges of financial crimes — first-degree theft, first-degree fraud and ongoing criminal conduct — from the other charges facing the Rays: first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, child endangerment causing death, neglect or abandonment of a dependent person and several others.

Sabrina Ray, the Rays’ adoptive daughter, was found unresponsive about 6:30 p.m. May 12, 2017, at 1708 First Ave. in Perry, where the Rays operated a daycare facility. Sabrina Ray weighed 56 pounds when she died, according to the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner. Two other minors were also victims of the Rays’ alleged crimes.

Arguing for the state at a hearing in August, Assistant Dallas County Attorney Stacy L. Ritchie said “all of these charges revolve around the same set of facts and circumstances. They have the same witnesses that the state will call to prove these cases. The have a conjoined, ongoing plan or scheme involving all of them.”

The state claims the financial support the Rays received for the care and feeding of their adoptive children was misappropriated, and this theft was “the motive for the underlying tragedy,” Ritchie said.

“The crimes against these children were committed for a financial motive,” she said. “To allege one of these counts to the jury without the others would not provide the jury sufficient information to make a determination because they’re all intertwined.”

Arguing in support of the motion to separate the charges, Sean Spellman, defense counsel for Misty Jo Bousman Ray, said the charges of financial crimes, filed in May 2018, were “wholly new and different offenses” from the charges filed one year earlier, shortly after the death of Sabrina Ray in May 2017. Spellman said the financial crimes would be “difficult for a jury to compartmentalize.”

In rejecting the defense motion, Rickers accepted the state’s argument that the alleged crimes were “part of a ‘common scheme or plan’ on the part of the Rays to obtain a profit from their adoption stipend.”

The trial of Marc and Misty Ray is scheduled to being Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, at 9:30 a.m. in the Woodbury County District Court in Sioux City.

Sabrina Ray’s grandmother, Carla Raye Bousman, 63, of Perry, was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in April in a plea bargain arranged by her attorney. Sabrina Ray’s brother, Justin Ray, 22, of Perry, was sentenced in February to 10 years in prison in a plea bargain arranged by his attorney.

The trial of Josie Bousman, 21, of Perry, the niece of Misty Ray, who faces charges of first-degree kidnapping, child endangerment resulting in death and obstruction of prosecution or defense, has not been scheduled.

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