Prosecutors in Robert Gray Jr.’s trial started the day Thursday by introducing the jury to the local doctor who treated Brandon White during the time the family lived in Denison before moving to California. The family moved back to Denison in 2012 and Brandon White, 15, was found dead in the family home on Jan. 8, 2013.

Prosecutors in Robert Gray Jr.’s trial started the day Thursday by introducing the jury to the local doctor who treated Brandon White during the time the family lived in Denison before moving to California. The family moved back to Denison in 2012 and Brandon White, 15, was found dead in the family home on Jan. 8, 2013.


Dr. Vernon Johnson is a child psychiatrist who treated Brandon White. He said the child suffered from autism, bipolar disorder, mental retardation and attention deficit disorder.


During statements to police, Gray said Brandon White was doing without his medication for those illnesses when he died. Gray said Brandon White had suffered a number of seizures in the days before his death and that he was having problems sleeping and controlling himself. Gray said Brandon White was screaming and yelling and he was violent. The violence included hitting and kicking, as well as biting.


Assistant Grayson County District Attorney Matt Johnson asked Dr. Johnson if tying the teen up and gagging him would help to the curb those behaviors. Dr. Johnson said it would have the opposite effect. He said the child needed consistency in treatment, loving support from his caregivers and a soothing environment. He also said the seizures the child was suffering would be an additional point of stress for the child and would likely make his other symptoms more pronounced.


The prosecutor then asked the doctor if there were other resources that Gray and Brandon White’s mother, Holli, could have sought for help with the teen if they were unable to handle him. Dr. Johnson said they could have called a number of local resources including local hospitals, other doctors, and the local police department for help with the teen.


Defense attorney Kristin Brown walked Dr. Johnson through his treatment records on Brandon White and asked him to show the jury where it was documented that he ever told Holli White about any of those other resources including a group home or other doctors she could have tried to get to see her son. Though Dr. Johnson could point out every change in medication that the child underwent, he could not point to anything in the record that showed Holli White was ever told to call the Behavioral Health Center, local hospitals or the police department if she needed help controlling the teen who had the mental capacity of a pre-school child. When asked about that, Dr. Johnson said those types of talks where parents are given options for treatment are not charted. He said he did have the conversations though. At that point, Brown reminded him that he sees 20 to 30 patients a day five days a week and wondered how he could remember that for any one child.


Brown also asked if it were true that Holli White tried, in the weeks before her son’s death, to get him an appointment with Dr. Johnson and was told she needed to call back when she had his Medicaid worked out. Dr. Johnson said he doesn’t handle billing issues or appointment scheduling for his office, so he wouldn’t know anything about that. When continually pressed on the defense claim that his office refused to see the teen because the family couldn’t pay, Dr. Johnson said he sees patients for free.


The defense attorney also went over every instance in which the medical record referred to Brandon White as being violent. In a number of instances, the records said Brandon was kicking, biting and hitting people. She said that meant he was definitely disturbed.


"He is mentally ill," Dr. Johnson countered.


Being mentally ill didn’t kill him though. And the defense questions appeared to try to show the jury that the lack of medication wasn’t completely responsible for Brandon White’s behavior. He was medicated when he was seeing Dr. Johnson regularly, and he was still having issues with violent behavior. After several rounds of increasingly pointed questions, Dr. Johnson said one reason he kept having to adjust Brandon White’s medication was the fact that his home life was exactly the opposite of that required for someone with his conditions. Dr. Johnson then said Brandon White was, at one doctor’s visit, upset because Gray was absent from the home because he was in jail.


Brown read off notes that indicated that Brandon White bit people who were trying to help him including his mother and his teacher. Another note said, at one point it took several grown people to hold him down during a doctor’s visit while someone administered Haldol. And that, Brown said, was before he turned 15. "And he is getting older and stronger," she repeated more than once during her questions for the doctor. Dr. Johnson agreed that Brandon White was getting older and stronger.


Jurors also heard Thursday from Brandon White’s great aunt who often let the family move into her home. Lee Ann Williams said Brandon White was "a good kid who would have little spells" like any child with autism. She also said she researched the boy’s illness and gave his mother information about the disorder. She said she thought Robert Gray was a pretty good guy when she first met him, but she didn’t really trust him. She said he took charge of the family and filled the role of stepfather for Holli White’s two boys. When asked by attorneys, Williams said Holli White and Gray were arguing, in the weeks before Brandon White’s death, about putting the boy in a home. Williams said Holli White was reluctant to do so because her daughter had been killed in an auto accident and she saw putting Brandon in a home as losing another child. Williams said Gray wanted the boy put in a home so he could go to work and have a more normal home life with Holli White and her youngest son.


Defense attorney John Hunter Smith asked the great aunt if her niece had lived a hard life. The woman said Holli White had been through a great deal. She lost one child in an auto accident, had a child with severe disabilities and had a husband who ran off because he couldn’t deal with the boy’s limitations. Smith asked if she ever saw Holli White sit on Brandon White and the aunt said she had witnessed that a few times. She also said she had witnessed Holli White take Brandon White to the hospital when he was having seizures.


"Did she illicit help from other men in her life?" Smith asked.


The aunt agreed there had been a man before Gray. That man tried to help with the kids, but eventually left Holli White and her two sons. It was at that point that she moved into a mobile home park and met her new neighbor, Gray. He was working as a handy man at the park. Before long, the two were living together. The aunt said she disagreed with some of the decisions that Holli White made. No one asked her to explain which ones.


She also said she knew that Holli White had called Dr. Johnson in an attempt to her son back into see a doctor. Williams said Gray didn’t believe that his girlfriend had made that call and even called the doctor’s office himself trying to make an appointment.


The final testimony of the day came from DNA experts who said several items they tested from the home Brandon White shared with his mother, brother and Gray included DNA from Brandon White or Gray or a combination of both. Every expert who was asked said it was not strange to find their DNA on the items since they both lived in the home. The experts also agreed that it is impossible to pinpoint when a DNA sample is left on an item.


The case resumes Friday and is likely to go into next week.