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

Tulsa World - - Front Page - By Sa­man­tha Vi­cent and Michael Over­all

Bever

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

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