The dark clouds hanging over the Grayson County Justice Center Wednesday couldn’t touch the gloom building in the 15th state District Court as jurors in Robert Gray Jr.’s trial on a murder charge continued to hear the tale of the 15-year-old Brandon White’s last hours on earth.

The dark clouds hanging over the Grayson County Justice Center Wednesday couldn’t touch the gloom building in the 15th state District Court as jurors in Robert Gray Jr.’s trial on a murder charge continued to hear the tale of the 15-year-old Brandon White’s last hours on earth.


Brandon White suffered from autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and a seizure disorder, and was withdrawing from medications for those illnesses when he slipped from this world on the sofa in his family’s home after suffering a number of seizures over a weekend that would sound outrageous if it were written into a horror movie about an abused or neglected child.


But the tale that unfolded in the 15th state district court was no work of fiction. Jurors watched as Brandon’s stepfather, as Gray referred to himself, calmly told Denison police officers about hogtying the teen, who was said to have the mental capacity of pre-schooler, and gagging him when he acted out while withdrawing from powerful mind-altering drugs.


Though it might be hard to believe, Gray’s own words weren’t the most damaging uttered in his case Wednesday. Those likely came from Rafael Murgia, a Mexican immigrant who is doing time in the federal system for drug charges. He was in state jail on a child sex abuse charge, he testified, when he fell into a game of Texas Hold ‘Em with Gary and some other inmates at the Grayson County Jail. Murgia said the game dwindled down to two players, him and Gray, before Gray asked Murgia why he was in jail.


Murgia said he "didn’t like to talk about (his) troubles." He listened, however, he said, as Gray started talking about his. Murgia said Gray said he moved in with a lady and her kids. "He said one of the kids was sick. The kids started acting crazy and tried to bite everyone." Murgia said Gray said he tied the kid up and the kid kept screaming. So he said he put the kid on the couch and still the kid kept screaming. Murgia said Gray recalled that he then "got a cushion to to make him quite. When the kid got quite, (Gray) went to sleep and when he woke up he checked on the kid and the kid was cold."


When questioned about how Gray told the horrible tale, Murgia said Gray laughed about it. "He said he was going to be done with this (expletive removed) and the next time I move in with someone I am going to make sure she doesn’t have any (expletive removed) kids so I don’t have to go through this s..t."


Faced with that statement, Gray’s defense attorney John Hunter Smith reminded the jury that Murgia is a Mexican national who was in America legally before he decided to break his adopted country’s laws and do something that led to his doing time on an indecency with a child charge and on a charge of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.


Murgia said he didn’t distribute anything, he just delivered the drug to someone who distributed it. He also said he is paying for his crimes and he faces deportation when he finishes his federal sentence. He is serving the state sentence concurrently. Smith hinted that Murgia might have made up his conversation with Gray to get moved back to Grayson County, where the jails are relatively uncrowded, from South Texas where they are over flowing with inmates.


Though Smith and his co-counsel Kristin Brown tried hard to defend their client Wednesday, Murgia was likely the least of their troubles. Jurors also heard the 911 tape that brought help to the home Gray shared Brandon White, his mother Holli White and her younger son. When paramedics arrived, Brandon White was cold to the touch and stiff.


"Hello, how are you doing," Gray said to the 911 operator when he called at around 2 a.m.. Then he added, "I think my stepson has stopped breathing."


Just how upset Gray should have sounded or did sound was a major point of contention between prosecutors Matt Johnson and Britton Brooks and Smith and Brown. The prosecutors wanted to ask police officers who responded to the scene what they thought about the way Gray addressed the 911 operator. Johnson said the officers had been through training classes that would let them draw conclusions about Gray’s state of mind by the way he talked to the dispatcher.


The state contends that the greeting shows Gray was trying to distance himself from the death of the 15-year-old.


Smith objected. He said the officers were not designated as experts in that particular area and should not be allowed to offer their opinion about what Gray’s statements might mean about his state of mind at the time of the incident.


In the end, the jury heard the tape recording without the officer’s opinion about what the words Gray exchanged with the dispatcher might have meant about his state of mind.


Jurors ended the day listening to Gray tell his side of the story to Denison Police Detective Kyle MacKay. Jurors watched a video of MacKay asking Gray about how Brandon White came to be in the condition he was in when paramedics found him laying in the floor of the family home. Gray described being woken up by Holli White and told that she needed to sleep because she had an appointment early the next day. He said he got up and went into the living room even though he had had little sleep over the previous couple of days.


He said when he got in there, Brandon White was on the floor. Gray said he picked the teen up and put him on the couch. He then blocked the teen on the couch with another couch and a chair. After that, Gray said, he took up his spot on an air mattress on the floor. He said when he woke up, he got up to get some water and offered Brandon White some too. When the boy wouldn’t respond, Gray said, he touched him.


"He was cold and all clammy," and wouldn’t respond to Gray’s attempts to rouse him from his sleep. At that point, Gray said, he decided to wake the boy’s mother. He said they then tried unsuccessfully to wake the boy before finally calling 911.


MacKay listened intently and sounded sympathetic as Gray talked about how hard life was with Brandon White. Gray said even with the problems, the kids weren’t bad. "I stepped in like a stepfather and all of that stuff," he told MacKay.


Part of stepping up apparently meant restraining Brandon White. Gary told the detective about the sheets they tore into strips that were used to hog tie the teen and to gag him. He said he tied the boy up almost every day and sometimes several times a day. He described sitting on the teens back while tying the boys legs and arms together.


"It didn’t hurt though," he added.


Later on the DVD, MacKay got right to the point with Gray. The detective said there was no way Brandon White suffered the injuries they found on his battered little body simply by falling down a few times. And he asked Gray to provide a logical explanation for the injuries.


Gray said Brandon White suffered three or four seizures on the Saturday before he died and four or five on Sunday. Gray said the teen even blacked out (a side effect of coming off of one of the medications) and struck his head on a bar in the kitchen.


MacKay asked how any of that would account for the bruised ribs the child suffered on both sides of his body or the cuts to his eye and mouth. He then also asked if Gray simply got too tired and "lost it" with Brandon and accidentally hurt him.


Gray said he would never hurt Brandon "except when I tied him and gagged him." He then said he only did those things because the teen was out of control.


MacKay asked if Brandon White were out of control on the night he died and if that caused Gary to lose control and hurt him.


Gary steadfastly denied it and then said, "Brandon was being good that night."


The case continues Thursday in the 15th state district Court with Judge James Fry presiding.