Tearful Marc Ray pleads guilty, accepts 35-year minimum

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Marc Ray, center, leaves the Dallas County Courthouse in the custody of two deputy sheriff's Friday afternoon after accepting a plea bargain that will see him serve at least 35 years in prison.

His voice choking with sobs, Marc Ray, 43, of Perry pleaded guilty in Dallas County District Court Friday afternoon to the 2017 starvation death of his 16-year-old adoptive daughter, Sabrina Ray.

Judge Terry R. Rickers accepted Ray’s guilty plea for crimes carrying a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison and a mandatory minimum of 35 years. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for Jan. 11.

In the emotional climax of the hour-long hearing, Rickers first read the legal definition of child endangerment resulting in death, which includes denying or withholding medical care from a child unable to seek care herself. The judge then asked Ray what he did to make himself guilty of Sabrina’s death.

Ray responded, reading from a prepared statement: “I was a parent of Sabrina Lynn Ray and had custody and control of her. She was a minor, and she was suffering from a physical disability. I failed to obtain necessary medical care to treat this disability, and my failure . . .” — here Ray’s voice cracked — “. . . to obtain medical care caused Sabrina’s death.”

The physical disability referred to in Ray’s formulaic response was apparently Sabrina’s condition of starvation.

In the plea agreement, the most serious charge against Ray — first-degree murder — was reduced to a charge of child endangerment resulting in death, a Class B felony carrying a maximum sentence of 50 years imprisonment.

The agreement also reduced the three charges of first-degree kidnapping — for the secret confinement of Sabrina and her two younger sisters, referred to in court records as minor children HR and MR — to three charges of third-degree kidnapping. Each of the Class C felonies carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

Along with his guilty pleas, Ray agreed to serve a mandatory minimum sentence of 35 years. The other charges against Ray, such as first-degree theft, first-degree fraud, ongoing criminal conduct, neglect or abandonment of a dependent person and several others, will be dismissed following the trial of Misty Bousman Ray, according to the terms of the plea bargain.

Ray was represented in Friday’s hearing by defense attorneys Gerald B. “Jake” Feuerhelm and Roger P. Owens. Representing the state were Dallas County Attorney Wayne Reisetter and First Assistant Dallas County Attorney Jeannine R. Ritchie.

Ray and his wife, Misty Bousman Ray, were arrested May 18, 2017, on felony charges in connection with the death of Sabrina Ray, 16, who weighed only 56 pounds when she was found dead May 12, 2017, in the Rays’ home at 1708 First Ave. in Perry.

Misty Ray’s trial is scheduled to begin Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, at 9:30 a.m. in the Woodbury County District Court in Sioux City.

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