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Robert Allen Satterfield, in suit and tie, is escorted from the Wharton County Courthouse by sheriff’s deputies Thursday afternoon following court proceedings in his capital murder trial.

WHARTON — What Jeffrey Brummer of East Bernard saw when he took his three young sons and a friend to a favorite fishing and swimming spot by the bridge over the San Bernard River on June 11, 2018, proved helpful in building the case against Robert Allen Satterfield.

Brummer was among the prosecution witnesses to testified recently in the trial of Satterfield, who is charged with capital murder in the killing 4-year-old Ray Shawn “Baby Ray” Hudson Jr. of Angleton. Satterfield also is accused of killing the boy’s parents, but prosecutors have elected not to try him on those charges at this time.

Brummer contacted Wharton County Precinct 2 Constable John Szymanski after seeing a notice on Facebook with Satterfield’s picture, Brummer testified. Soon thereafter, he would speak to Texas Ranger David Chauvin.

That information turned out to be very helpful to the case against Satterfield because Brummer saw a car June 11 and June 12 under the bridge later identified as the 2015 Hyundai Genesis belonging to Maya Victoria Rivera, 24, the second person Satterfield admitted to shooting to death June 10 during an interview with investigators.

Brummer testified that while he saw Satterfield walking along the bridge above the car, he did not see him driving, entering or exiting the vehicle.

Prior to Brummer’s testimony, two forensic pathologists told the jury that due to “thermal trauma” — exposure to extreme heat — no DNA could be extracted from the limited amount of bone fragments and teeth recovered from the burn pit where they were found. However, they were able to determine at least two adults, one being a female, and one “sub adult” between the ages of 3 and 6 were excavated from the burn pit.

Those expert witnesses were Dr. Joan Bytheway, who at the time was director of the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility at Sam Houston State University, and Dr. John Servello, senior forensic anthropologist at the Center for Human Identification laboratory on the campus of the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.

Bytheway went to the burn pit on Henry Floyd’s property near Burr where Satterfield told investigators he dumped, burned and buried the remains of the family at 5:47 p.m. June 16 in response to a call from Chauvin. A couple of her graduate students accompanied her, and they left about 10 p.m., she said.

Her primary task was to determine whether bones and teeth that had been uncovered were human or animal, she said. Chauvin testified earlier he needed that determination in order to draw up three arrest warrants for murder.

After determining they were human remains and preserving them, she said she couldn’t further identify them without sending them to her lab. However, the remains instead were sent to the Texas DPS Crime Lab in Houston and to the Center for Human Identification, so she didn’t see them again.

Bytheway said had she been in charge of the recovery she would have “done some things differently,” acknowledging when asked about the backhoe that it could have further fractured the bones already degraded by the fire. The remains were about 4½ feet below the surface.

Asked if she charged for her services, she said she did not.

“As a state employee I was helping other state employees,” Bytheway said.

Servello performed the most extensive testing of the remains, and with pictures of the bones sorted by type and sex where possible, he explained to the jury what they were looking at. He said he spent less than a month with the forensic study before writing his report.

Servello said he identified some bones belonging to a child between the ages of 3 and 6, as well as bones of at least two adults, one of which was a relatively young female.

Asked how he determined there were at least two adults, he said there were two left humerus bones and two right heel bones.

Because DNA could not be recovered, Servello said he could not say the bones were those of Baby Ray or his parents.

“Hey, you need a ride?”

Brummer, subpoenaed by District Attorney Dawn Allison, said in June 2018 he was recovering from a motorcycle accident. He decided to take his sons and a friend to a swimming and fishing hole on the San Bernard River.

He said it was starting to get hot about noon on June 11 so he felt he should get his sons out of the heat. They were loading up his pickup when he noticed a car parked under the bridge. He said it wasn’t there when he arrived. He then saw a man walking on the bridge against traffic by the rail. He was wearing a black shirt.

“Hey man, you need a ride?” he yelled at the man. The man accepted the offer.

“Why did you ask him?” Allison said. “It was hot,” Brummer replied, adding the nearest town was several miles away.

Satterfield and the three boys got in the back seat.

Brummer first went to his house so his friend could retrieve his car, he said. The friend had to leave for West Texas the next day to get back to his drilling rig.

Brummer agreed to drive Satterfield to Wharton to the Crown Inn Motel, but first they stopped at a couple of convenience stores in East Bernard, both of which captured Satterfield with their surveillance cameras. Brummer said he was with Satterfield about 45 minutes.

The next day, June 12, Brummer again took his boys to the swimming hole, and the car was still there, “parked directly under the bridge.”

Allison asked Brummer if he ever saw Satterfield again. He said he did on a Facebook post about the missing family.

“How did you recognize him?” she asked.

Brummer said he recognized the tattoos.

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