OLATHE, Kan. (KSHB) — UPDATE: Justin Rey was found guilty in a Johnson County Courtroom early Thursday morning. After a three-day trial, he was convicted of aggravated child endangerment, child misconduct, and sexual exploitation of a child.
He will be sentenced on those charges March 27.
PREVIOUS: Johnson County Prosecuting Attorney Sarah Hill told the jury what Justin Rey did after his wife allegedly died in childbirth with a picture he took on his phone.
“Two hours after her mother died, is placed on her mother’s breast to nurse,” said Hill.
Hill brought up specific points in her closing arguments on day three to argue why Rey should be found guilty on two counts each of child endangerment and child misconduct.
“Her toothbrush is sitting in her mother’s decomposing bodily fluid,” said Hill.
Rey claims his wife, Jessica Rey, died in childbirth at WoodSpring Suites hotel in KCMO. He admitted days later he cut up her body and carted her remains in coolers to a Lenexa U-Haul storage facility, where he stayed the night with their newborn and toddler. He was arrested the next day on Oct. 24, 2017, before police even knew what was in the coolers.
Police say he had minimal supplies for the children, and they were among bags on top of Jessica’s remains.
The day after Jessica died on Oct. 21, an ambulance showed up to the hotel for an unrelated call. Detective Shannon Murphy testified Rey told her he thought about getting help but didn’t, because he knew his kids would be taken away.
Investigators testified Rey had multiple opportunities to seek help but chose not to.
“Bad parenting is not to be treated by a criminal court,” said Rey’s defense attorney W. Scott Toth.
Toth argued that the dismemberment issue is “polluting” the trial, and the jury should not consider it because it happened in Missouri.
“He took matters in his own hands, and we saw the gross, graphic evidence of that Monday afternoon, we all know that. But what does that have to do with his children?” said Toth.
Hill said Rey’s actions in Missouri and how it carried over to Kansas shows what the children went through.
Throughout the trial Toth tried to argue Rey’s actions were due to his Christian Science beliefs, however Judge Brenda Cameron ruled the testimony never showed that.
Toth switched gears in his closing argument to say Rey is mentally ill, but it doesn’t make him a criminal.
Rey’s parental rights may be taken away in a separate case.
Rey is also facing three charges relating to hundreds of child porn searches and four saved images found on his phone in October 2018. Murphy said investigators had gotten permission from Rey to search the phone. She said she wanted to find the pictures Rey took of Jessica’s dead body propped up with her children. She came across the sexually explicit pictures of girls who appeared to be under 18.
Toth argues no one can be certain that he actually did it.
Rey took the stand to insist he didn’t. He said he was asleep when the pictures were viewed, around 2:15 a.m. on Oct. 19.
“Well, there’s only two other people in the room who are adults, so are you telling us it’s your wife looking at this information?” Hill asked.
“I’m not telling you who it is, cause I don’t know. All I know it’s not me,” said Rey.
Rey alluded he thought police had planted the images.
Detective Shannon Murphy, of the Lenexa Police Department, was questioned about the information found on Rey’s phone from the date Oct. 20, 2017, the day the baby was born, to Oct. 24, 2017, the day he was arrested.
At 1:56 p.m., he texted someone to ask for a ride from work at Ponak’s restaurant so he could go deliver his baby.
Rey’s phone also contained a text from Jessica at 2:25 p.m., reading “It’s girl.” It is not certain if she was alone while giving birth.
However, in a notebook police recovered, Rey wrote the time of the baby’s birth was 3:25 p.m. He also wrote “RIP Jessica” at 8:45 p.m.
It was pointed out that Rey’s job at Ponak’s on Southwest Boulevard was a bit of a drive to the hotel where the family was staying, near the stadium complex.
After she died, his search history shows he looked up “newborn baby cow’s milk,” and texted people asking them to bring him baby formula.
Jessica’s sister, Sarah Monteiro, has created an online petition to “make willful dismemberment and mutilation to a human illegal as a federal law.”