A Mintlaw man who is accused of gunning down his wife in America claimed his disabled spouse had shot and killed herself, a court has been told.
Wayne Fraser, 47, denies a charge of first-degree murder after his 55-year-old wife Natalie Ryan-Fraser was found dead at a Mississippi (MS) apartment on December 30 2021.
On Thursday, one of her brothers gave evidence, testifying against his brother-in-law.
Kory Ryan, the founder of and managing partner at a major Texas-based law firm, recalled the day he heard that Natalie was dead.
He told the court Fraser contacted him by phone in the morning and his sibling’s husband told him that she had shot herself.
Then the panicked relative raised the alarm with the emergency services by calling 911, the jury heard.
Kory Ryan is the District Attorney’s last witness.
His multi-millionaire businessman brother Texas-based tax consultant and entrepreneur George Brinton “Brint” Ryan, whose firm is worth $2.5 billion, has previously told The Press and Journal that the family have been “working closely” with the prosecution.
However, Brint Ryan has not testified in the trial and hasn’t been called to testify.
Earlier, the jury at Lowndes County Court House heard evidence from a digital forensics expert who retrieved and examined images from a mobile phone.
On Tuesday, jurors in the southern city of Columbus were presented with the first evidence in the court case that could now run into the weekend.
Other evidence heard by the jury so far
First to recollect the tragic fatal shooting was local 911 call operator Cindy Lawrence, who answered questions from the witness stand.
The following day, a representative from the state medical examiner’s office offered testimony as the court was shown disabled Natalie’s wheelchair on Wednesday.
Fraser, who swapped the north-east of Scotland to live the American dream, was captured on camera looking down at the desk he was sitting at while he wrote notes.
The Scots expat had been married to Natalie, an educator at Angelo State University in Texas, for around a decade.
At the time of her death, she had travelled from their Texan home to visit her partner who had been working part-time out-of-state as a foreman for an industrial painting and coating company in Hamilton, MS.
Fraser faces life imprisonment if he is convicted.
He could avoid spending the rest of his life locked up only if he’s acquitted or found guilty of less serious homicide offences that carry custodial sentences of 20-40 years.
Ex-Mintlaw Academy pupil receiving US equivalent of legal aid
The ex-Mintlaw Academy pupil, who went on to study at Banff and Buchan College, is receiving the US equivalent of legal aid.
Fraser is being represented by a public defender after he was declared unable to finance a defence attorney on his own.
He had already been detained for around 20 months before the murder trial started this week.
Lowndes County Sheriff’s deputies arrested him when they responded to Cedar Street in the town of Caledonia.
There they carried out a welfare check but instead discovered Natalie’s body and recovered a 9mm firearm from the scene.
Just the day before she had checked the couple into a steakhouse and sushi bar on Facebook, posting: “Dinner with my love”.
Fraser denies that he did “feloniously, wilfully and unlawfully with deliberate design to effect the death of Natalie Fraser, a human being, kill Natalie Fraser, without the authority of law and not in necessary self-defence”.
The murder trial, presided over by Judge James T Kitchens Jr, continues.
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