Gruesome details shared in Bever trial A survivor from the attack described in testimony the events during the quintuple murder of a family in Broken Arrow
Michael Bever's then-13-year-old sister came to the bedroom to relay a message from their mother, who wanted him and his 18-year-old brother to wash the dishes.
It was past 11 p.m. on July 22, 2015, and Michael and Robert Bever were in their room trying on body armor, outfits the sister thought were “weird” but had seen the brothers wear before, according to testimony Friday in Michael Bever's quintuple murder trial.
“Should we do it now?” she said one of the brothers asked as she left the room. She turned back to see what they wanted, the now 16-yearold being identified in court as “C.B.” told Tulsa County Assistant District Find complete coverage of the Bever case. Attorney Sarah McAmis.
“Well, I'm here now,” she said she told the brothers. “What do you want?”
Michael motioned for her to look at something on a computer screen, then Robert came up behind her and slit her throat with a knife, the sister said. At first, she didn't realize what was happening.
“It just felt, like, metally,” she said in a matter-of-fact tone. “Like, I could taste it.”
As she fell backward, Robert continued slashing and stabbing, inflicting wounds on her arms, chest and shoulders, C.B. said. Somehow managing to escape the brothers' bedroom, she ran first toward her room, hoping to get her phone, then decided instead to run for the front door. She could hear her mother screaming “Oh my God, oh my God.” And somewhere along the way, C.B. realized that an organ was hanging out from a gaping hole in her stomach.
“I kind of just held hand,” C.B. said.
She collapsed in the front yard and went in and out of consciousness as someone dragged her back inside the house, leaving a wide trail of blood that police officers would later follow to the door, C.B. said. At this point, she said, she heard her 12-yearold brother Daniel screaming loudly from the house.
“That's when I realized what was happening — that they were trying to kill everyone,” C.B. said.
In opening statements Friday morning, McAmis suggested it was Michael who dragged the girl back inside, not their oldest brother Robert, who is already serving multiple life sentences without parole after pleading guilty to five counts of murder.
C.B., however, later testified that she couldn't remember who dragged her. In fact, she testified Friday that she never saw Michael attack anyone, although C.B. did hear her mother screaming while she was still being attacked by Robert, implying that it must have been Michael attacking April Bever.
It's a crucial point, as the defense is seeking to put the blame largely, if not solely, on the older brother.
“We're going to ask you to make a decision based on what Robert did,” Chief Public Defender Corbin Brewster told the jurors, “and on what Michael did and didn't do.”
C.B. was the prosecution's star witness, testifying by closedcircuit TV from a nearby courtroom with special permission from the judge, who apparently wanted to spare her from directly confronting the defendant. With long, straight hair, she wore a pink sweater and once lifted a sleeve to show scars on her arm. A faint scar was also visible on her neck.
Both parents and three siblings, ages 5, 7 and 12, died that night in what McAmis said was “a scene that is beyond imagination,” with blood dripping off walls throughout the house. The father suffered at least 28 knife wounds; the mother at least 48.
C.B. survived after extensive surgery and has since been adopted with her now 4-year-old sister, who was found unharmed in the home.
Michael Bever, sitting behind the TV where he couldn't see his sister on the screen, used his jacket sleeve to wipe tears from his cheek as C.B. described waking up in the hospital and asking if her parents were OK.
He had cried earlier in the day, too, as the jury listened to a 911 call made by Daniel at 11:32 p.m. Broken Arrow 911 operator Lisa Smith told jurors a call also came from the residence just more than a minute earlier, but couldn't provide further details because she didn't take the call.
“My brother's attacking my family,” the boy whispers on the second call before someone apparently takes the phone away and a new, deeper voice says “hello.” The line then goes dead, and 911 operators were unable to reconnect it.
Reviewing the audio later, Smith testified that she could hear the caller refer to “Michael” and say “please don't murder me.” That part of the recording was very faint in court Friday.
Police initially identified only one brother, Robert, as a suspect, according to dispatch records read in court Friday. But police found both brothers hiding in the woods behind the house in Broken Arrow, where a police dog bit Michael during the arrest. Friday morning.
“Robert became more than just a brother, more than just a mentor,” Brewster told jurors. “He became Michael's whole world.”
McAmis, the assistant district attorney, insisted Michael Bever shared equally in the blame for the killings, having helped plan the attack for at least a year. Michael was the one who tricked Christopher and Victoria into unlocking a bathroom door before stabbing each of them multiple times, she said.
Robert is the one who openly talked about murderous fantasies and amassed a large collection of knives and liked to wear body armor similar to costumes worn in his favorite movie, 2009's “Rampage” about a disillusioned young man who goes on a killing spree, Brewster said, although testimony later revealed Michael had a similar fascination.
Brewster suggested that Michael Bever, now facing up to life in prison without parole if convicted, didn't really expect his older brother to go through with the killings. He also alleged Michael had suffered physical and mental abuse from his father, who kept such tight control over the family that Michael perhaps never had extended contact with an adult outside the home until he was arrested and interrogated by police.
District Judge Sharon Holmes abruptly stopped the defense halfway through opening statements when the prosecution appeared to object to Brewster mentioning that four surveillance cameras had been placed inside the Bever home, telling jurors that investigators failed to get any video of the killings.
Before jurors came into the courtroom Friday, prosecutors had tried to squelch any suggestion that the Bever parents had mistreated the children, saying “there's scant evidence of abuse.” Holmes, however, agreed to “see what evidence is presented.”
Holmes also made a series of decisions on what evidence will be allowed during Bever's trial — including a journal kept by the teen that Brewster said the state considers as proof of a confession to the stabbings.
She said Tulsa County jail deputies confiscated the journal about six months into his period of pretrial incarceration and determined its contents are relevant to the trial. She overruled Brewster's objection to its admission, finding it did not clearly have privileged communication between Bever, his legal team or any medical professionals.
Holmes also will allow prosecutors to present Bever's statements to law enforcement for the jury, saying she found they were made knowingly and voluntarily.
Additionally, Holmes granted a request from District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler to limit the defense's argument with regard to mishandling of evidence by former Detective Gayla Adcock. She told Brewster the defense can explore Adcock's conduct in the investigation but won't be able to allude to “collusion” by the District Attorney's Office, as she ruled earlier this month that prosecutors did not act improperly.
Testimony will resume Holmes' courtroom Monday.
That's when I realized what was happening — that they were trying to kill everyone.” C.B. The sister of Robert and Michael Bever about the night of the attack