Hobbled victim testifies in Forest County attempted murder trial; verdict to come FridaySubmitted: 05/21/2015

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CRANDON - Steven Roberts stumbled to the witness stand on Thursday. Missing part of his left foot, he mostly walks with a walker.

A Forest County jury will decide if what Ray Jones, 46, did to Roberts is enough to convict Jones of attempted murder.

"I got beat up for two days, and left out in the woods for twenty-some-odd hours in freezing cold weather," testified Roberts.

He was describing how he remembers events in March 2014. Ray Jones and Justin Bey allegedly choked, kicked, stomped on, and battered Roberts, then left him in the woods east of Crandon as temperatures dropped into the single digits. Bey has already reached a plea deal with Forest County District Attorney Chuck Simono. Jones is on trial for attempted murder.

"What did you hear (Jones and Bey) talking about with regards to leaving you for the wolves?" Simono asked Roberts while he was on the stand.

"They told me that hopefully they'll smell the blood, the wolves would come get me, and kill me," the victim replied.

Roberts was the eighteenth and final witness called by Simono. He took the stand on Thursday, the third day of the trial and final day of witness testimony. The jury will likely come to a verdict on Friday.

"How many times, in total, do you think you'd been hit and beat, over the two days?" Simono asked Roberts.

"I have no idea," Roberts said, appearing to think hard. "It was quite a few. I couldn't begin to count how many times."

Simono will ask Bey be sent to prison for 30 years for Bey's role in the crimes. But on Wednesday and Thursday, Bey testified as a prosecution witness for almost four hours. What he said largely matched Roberts' recollections.

"(Jones) just kept saying that he thought we were getting away with murder, that the elements if what we did didn't kill (Roberts), that the elements, the weather, would, and with the smell of blood out there, that the wolves would possibly get him," Bey said.

Jones' defense attorney, Brian Bennett, tried to attack the credibility of Bey as a witness. He brought up an early conversation Bey had with investigators.

"By the end of the interview, you're looking to make Ray look as bad as possible, on the off chance that you might get out of jail?" Bennett asked.

"Yes," replied Bey.

Bennett tried to point out inconsistencies in Bey's story, like how Bey originally said Jones had ordered him to carry out the beatings. Bey later admitted that he took many of the actions out of his own free will.

The defense called just two witnesses of its own. One was April Jones, the wife of Ray Jones. She described when her husband came home after the alleged beatings.

"He slid his face up, and he looked at me, and he had said, 'Honey, I think he killed that man,'" April Jones recalled. She clarified that her husband was talking about Bey killing Roberts.

Ray Jones did not and will not testify in his own defense.

Lawyers will make their closing arguments on Friday morning to the jury of nine men and five women. Two of those jurors will be randomly selected to serve as alternates. Judge Michael Bloom anticipates that the jury will have a verdict sometime on Friday. If Ray Jones is convicted of attempted murder, he will face life in prison.

Story By: Ben Meyer

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