James Leroy Bear set for trial arraignment next week

Ashlynd Huffman/ Stillwater News Press James Leroy Bear attended his preliminary hearing at 1:30 p.m., on Wednesday. Bear is seen with his lawyer, Royce Hobbs. 

STILLWATER, Okla. — On Wednesday afternoon, the court found probable cause that a crime was committed regarding James Leroy Brown, 55, of Stillwater, who was accused of child sex crimes in 2019.

Bear had a preliminary hearing set in front of Judge Michael Kulling. The state was represented by District Attorney Debra Vincent. Bear was represented by his lawyer, Royce Hobbs.

The state called their first witness to the stand. The witness' identity will not be provided.  

“We always referred to him as neighbor James,” the witness said.

She stated her family was often involved with Bear. They would have movie marathons at his residence sometimes until 2 a.m.

Hobbs chose to cross examine the witness.

The witness testified that she knew of prior criminal charges Bear had been charged with, but didn’t believe she should be concerned.

The state called Kristy Capeheart, who is employed at the Department of Human Services.

“I requested custody of the two youngest children,” Capeheart said.

They were in her custody for close to 24 hours before being interviewed at the Saville Center located in Stillwater.

Hobbs declined to cross examine Capeheart.

The state then called Brandi Watts, a nurse practitioner at the Saville Center.

Watts told the court that she was familiar with all kinds of abuse ranging from pediatric to adult.

She had encountered victims of physical and sexual abuse, neglect, children removed due to drugs and failure to thrive.

“I am nationally certified for pediatric abuse,” Watts said.

Watts told the court descriptive parts of her interview with the victim, and what questions she asked.

During court, she said that due to a policy she deleted the audio recording of the interview after her written report was finished.

Hobbs objected multiple times during the hearing and characterized Watts' testimony as hearsay.

Watts told the court the victim told her the perpetrator was a white man with hair all over his body and was someone the victim knew as "neighbor James."

After the court overruled many of Hobbs' objections, he chose to cross examine Watts.

He asked why the recording was deleted and she replied that it was a policy at their work. He asked who created that policy. She admitted that she wrote it and that the board voted on it.

Hobbs moved to disallow Watts' testimony, but the court overruled.

The state called the last witness, Rockford Brown from the Payne County Sheriff's department.

Brown was not there during the victim's initial interview. 

Brown testified he was the investigator who had found Bear in a situation that indicated he was trying to commit suicide.

“I saw a green garden hose from the tailpipe to the passenger side window," Brown said.

Hobbs made a point that another registered sex offender, Ernest James, was the owner of the rental property where the family lived.

Hobbs suggested the victim could have mixed up the two men. Brown didn’t follow up with James during the investigation or ask the victim about James. 

James is black, which eliminated him from being a suspect, based on the child's description.

The court ruled there was enough evidence presented in court Wednesday for probable cause that a crime had been committed.

Bear is set for trial arraignment on Tuesday.

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