The day had been long. As they drove away from their wedding reception in the early hours of a new day in Topeka, Tiffany Davenport-Ray told her groom that she was tired. She pushed back her seat to relax.
He leaned over to remind her they had things to do. We’ve got to consummate this marriage, he said, right before bullets flew through the window next to her.
Someone in an SUV alongside them was shooting at them.
At trial last summer, Melvin Ray recalled the blood. It was everywhere in the car.
He sped to the hospital. His bride, still in her wedding gown, fell into his arms as he pulled her out of the car, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. She’d been shot in the head.
Thomas Earl Brown Jr., 39, was sentenced to life in prison this week for Davenport-Ray’s murder on May 25, 2014.
“A person is entitled to be married for more than nine hours,” District Judge David Debenham said in handing down the sentence.
Debenham said there was no reason for the killing.
Brown was one of two men convicted for the slaying. He had a previous conviction for voluntary manslaughter on his record when he killed her.
At trial last summer, according to the Capital-Journal, Ray testified that he grabbed his wife’s pistol from the console of the car when they were shot at and returned fire.
Police reported that as many as 30 shots were exchanged between the two vehicles that night.
Ray, who is a barber, testified that he lied to police the night of the shooting about firing back. He’d spent two years in prison on drug charges and didn’t want them to know he’d used a firearm.
Brown was also convicted of attempted murder of Melvin Ray. He was sentenced to the maximum prison term of 54 years and five months.
Co-defendant Awnterio Dwan Lowery, 32, who drove the SUV the night of the murder, was also convicted of killing the bride and trying to kill the groom.
Lowery was sentenced last month to consecutive terms of life in prison for Davenport-Ray’s death, and 51 years and eight months for the attempted slaying of Ray, according to the Capital-Journal.
According to The Associated Press, a third man in the SUV that night was shot to death about three weeks after the incident. His death was said to be related to the Ray shooting.
Davenport-Ray lived in Wichita at the time of her death and had returned to Topeka for the wedding ceremony, according to WIBW TV in Topeka.
Besides her husband, she left behind two children.