An Oklahoma County jury found an Oklahoma City woman guilty of first-degree manslaughter Thursday, while recommending a 27-year prison term for killing Ray Brown, 55, also of Oklahoma City, on Nov. 4, 2020.
The jury, which could have found Tyesha Long guilty of first-degree murder, announced its verdict after deliberating for nearly five hours.
Neither prosecutors nor her defense attorney disputed that Long, who had been in an on-again, off-again relationship with Brown, pulled a 9 mm pistol from her waistband and shot him on the eighth floor of a Bricktown hotel.
Prosecutors disputed Long's truthfulness about what happened and why, however.
Long, now 23, told investigators she shot Brown in the chest as he confronted her in an elevator lobby, protecting herself as the man threatened to kill her and reached to grab her by her throat.
Long testified she took Brown's threat seriously because he had, up until that point, "done everything he had said he was going to do."
But authorities testified Brown's body was found in a hallway around the corner, more than 20 feet away from the elevator lobby.
They also testified Brown, found face down pointed in the direction of his room and holding a keycard in his hand, had been shot in the back by someone standing at least 3 feet away.
Prosecutors also questioned whether Long truly had reason to be scared of Brown, given she had visited him numerous times the week before the shooting.
Long had obtained a protective order against Brown in Oklahoma County more than a year before the shooting. She obtained the VPO after she told police they had argued and he had punched her. No criminal charges were filed against Brown related to that incident.
"I took it seriously," Long said of the VPO. "We were trying to work out some issues, that's all. He didn't always put his hands on me."
And Long, who testified in her own defense, struggled at times to answer questions posed by Assistant District Attorney Madeline Coffee about both her relationship with Brown and discrepancies between her story and what investigators had found at the scene.
Joi E. Miskel, Long's attorney, argued in closing her client was afraid, acted in self-defense and still had problems remembering what happened because the confrontation left her in shock.
"If she murdered this man, why would she call 911, stay on the scene, consent to an interview, to give a DNA sample, to allow access to her phone and to tell investigators to check the hotel's cameras six different times?" Miskel asked.
She also argued police, after they discovered the hotel had no cameras covering that floor, could have used cutting-edge technology to reconstruct what happened, plus brought in detectives who were domestic abuse experts to clear up conflicts between the evidence and Long's story, but didn't.
"The system has failed Tyesha Long before. Don't let the system fail her now," Miskel told jurors. "Do the right thing."
Coffee, meanwhile, told jurors Oklahoma proved its case that Long had murdered Brown and categorized Miskel's criticisms of the investigation as distractions.
"You don't shoot someone in the middle of the back ... unless you mean to kill them," Coffee said. "In that moment, she (Long) acted as the judge, jury and executioner of Ray Brown."
The trial was attended by about 50 family and friends of both Brown and Long.
Dalinda Long told The Oklahoman she understood what Tyesha, her cousin, had experienced with Brown, explaining she had been through similar relationships herself.
"She is the actual victim here of domestic violence. I think she was scared," Long said. "I kind of understand really why she went back. Sometimes, while you might say you're not scared, you know it will be worse if you don't go and he gets mad."
Brown's mother, Laura, meanwhile, said she hoped to see Long go to prison.
"It really has been very, very painful," Brown said of losing her son, who owned an events center in northeast Oklahoma City before he was killed. "Ray was a good person. I don't think he really believed she was going to kill him."
District Judge Susan Stallings will formally sentence Long at 2 p.m. Nov. 16.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Tyesha Long found guilty of manslaughter in death of Ray Brown