Facebook Twitter

Shumway convicted of murder

Jury finds 16-year-old guilty in best friend’s death; questions linger

SHARE Shumway convicted of murder

One year ago, Brookes Colby Shumway and Christopher Ray vacationed together at Ray's family cabin in Duchesne County. They played together like good friends do.

Friday afternoon, 16-year-old Shumway hung his head and sobbed quietly as a jury convicted him of murdering Ray. Ray was 14 years old when in January Shumway stabbed him 39 times in the head, neck, torso and legs. He died on the floor of his mother's trailer home. Shumway watched.

The jury rendered its verdict after three days of testimony and a little more than two hours of deliberation. They found Shumway guilty of one count of first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony evidence tampering.

All eight jurors cried, some audibly, as 3rd District Court Judge Roger Livingston read the verdict. Few looked at Shumway, who kept his head bowed even as bailiffs led him away in handcuffs.

Family members of both Ray and Shumway filled the courtroom beyond capacity. Families and friends clung together and cried — one side in relief, the other in heartwrenching anguish — when the verdict was announced.

"Justice has been served," Ray's mother Debbie Robb said, clutching her daughter Jennifer Bozarth. "I think my son can rest now."

Robb said she still doesn't know what happened the night her son died; how he could have been viciously attacked while she slept in a nearby bedroom.

"I wish I could understand," she said, "but I don't have a clue."

Prosecutor Katherine Bernards-Goodman speculated Shumway must have muffled Ray somehow to prevent him from calling out. Though some questions remain unanswered, and regardless of the verdict, Bernards-Goodman said the situation is tragic.

"It's sad on both sides," she said. "I have children the same age, older and younger. My heart goes out to the father of the defendant just as much as to the family of the victim.

"I don't know what the precipitating event was," she continued, "but clearly he (Shumway) had a lot of pent-up anger and rage, and he just blew up. And he got up and killed his friend."

Shumway's family and defense attorney Randall Lund were unavailable for comment after the verdict was announced.

During his closing statement, Lund urged jurors to "pay attention to the details," which he argued showed an inadequate police investigation into Ray's death.

Lund argued police failed to follow up on Shumway's statements indicating Ray did not take his psychiatric medication and that Ray "got really mad" when he skipped doses. Investigators also did not take seriously Shumway's claims that Ray's mother and sister were involved in the altercation, Lund argued.

Instead, Lund said police put words in Shumway's mouth, coercing him with kindness and promises that telling the truth would "take care of him."

Their investigation led to two kinds of evidence, Lund said, "that which is inconclusive, and that which leads to other questions."

Bernards-Goodman painted a much different picture of Shumway.

"The defendant had a plan, and that was to kill Chris Robb," Bernards-Goodman said during her closing argument. After stabbing his friend, Bernards-Goodman said Shumway started looking for a defense.

"And he's been looking for one ever since, because his story keeps changing," she said.

Shumway offered at least three versions of the events leading up to Ray's death: that Ray failed to take his medication and became aggressive, that there was an extended struggle during which time Ray stabbed himself numerous times, that others were involved in the altercation.

Homicide detective Todd Park defended his team's investigation, saying all the evidence pointed to Shumway.

"We did look for other suspects," Park said. "But in the end, the investigation just showed that Brookes was the perpetrator and that he killed Chris."

Shumway is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 18. He faces five years to life in prison for the murder conviction, and one to 15 years for evidence tampering.

E-mail: jnii@desnews.com

Contributing: Jennifer Dobner