OLATHE, Kan. — Tuesday marked the second day of trial for Justin Rey, the man accused of dismembering his wife and endangering their children.
He is charged with aggravated endangerment of a child, sexual exploitation of a minor and child misconduct in Johnson County.
Monday, Rey’s lawyer called the case “weird,” “abnormal” and “spooky,” but not criminal.
On day two, the prosecution put much emphasis on the temperature on the evening of October 24, 2017, the night Lenexa, Kansas, police arrested Justin Rey.
The state argues Rey put his children in danger.
When police arrested him, Rey was exiting a U-Haul storage unit facility with his newborn daughter and toddler, pulling a dolly with a red cooler and totes stacked on top of one another that contained the dismembered body of his wife, Jessica Rey.
The jury viewed body camera videos from two officers on scene that night. One showed Officer Caitlin Demorest asking Rey several times where Jessica was and repeatedly expressing concern for the children being outside in the cold.
Rey at first said Jessica killed herself after giving birth.
After his arrest, Officer Myles Karle testified he asked Rey if his wife was in the coolers. Rey acknowledged she was.
Prosecuting Attorney Sarah Hill showed the jury the contents of the red cooler, a black tote, and various bags inside the tote. Clothing, food, diapers, formula and other miscellaneous personal items were found inside the bags. Remains were found in a red lunch bag and the red cooler.
A child’s toothbrush was found at the bottom of the tote sitting on top of fluid a crime scene investigator said was consistent with Jessica’s remains.
Officer Demorest testified they decided to arrest Rey before the remains were discovered.
Officer Steve Wright said he noticed the smell of human decay as he wheeled the containers back to the storage unit, then secured the scene.
Rey and the children had stayed the night inside the storage unit along with Jessica’s remains. Before his arrest, a couple had given them a ride back to the unit to pick up the cooler and totes.
Rey said he was trying to catch a train to Arizona, although crime scene investigators said they never found any train tickets among his belongings.
An EMT firefighter, who is now fostering the girls with his wife, responded to the scene to check out the girls’ vitals.
He said the toddler was stunned with a “thousand yard stare” on her face. He noticed her hair was very thin and she had dark bags under her eyes, and thought she may be malnourished.
Rey’s defense attorney, Scott Toth, said she could have been stunned just because of the chaotic scene, and that it didn’t have anything to do with a developmental delay due to bad parenting. The EMT firefighter agreed.
The girls are now three years and one year old, and are reportedly doing great.
Testimony at a previous preliminary hearing from former Johnson County Deputy Coroner Dr. Charles Glenn was read by a third party, as Glenn is not available for trial. Glenn’s autopsy report read that he found Jessica’s head in the cooler, as well as various body parts. Some of the bones had been de-fleshed and many of them showed cut marks. He was not able to determine when the cuts happened due to the state of decomposition.
In addition to child endangerment charges, Rey is charged with three counts of sexual exploitation of a child. Police found sexual images of girls they thought may be under the age of 18 when they searched his phone in October 2018, a year after they seized it.
Toth is attempting to prove the prosecution’s search methods are questionable and argues that there is no way to tell the phone is Rey’s.
There is also an ongoing parental rights case against Rey. Toth wanted to bring up the parental rights case in in the current trial, but the judge ruled that he cannot do so to influence the jury. Toth argued that bad parenting doesn’t make you a criminal and there’s already a system in place to address bad parenting.
In Jackson County, Missouri, Rey faces charges of abandonment of a corpse (for the dismemberment), and another count of child endangerment.