Offer to help turns into quest for justice

Sep. 02, 2013 @ 04:55 PM

Two people who tried to help at the scene of a crash left a 7-year-old in the car with guns.

Now they’re facing charges, dealing with a crash victim they say changed his story about them to police, trying to find a new attorney because the one they hired was suspended for sexual misconduct and trying to get their firearms back.

To say it is not what Wendy and Donald Ray envisioned when they tried to help March 25 is an understatement.

“We witnessed an accident, and all this happened,” Donald Ray said. “We just wanted to check on everybody, to make sure they were all OK.”

“I have always been told, if you see an accident, you have to tell what you saw,” Wendy Ray said.

The Rays saw a crash at the intersection of South Garnett Street Extension and Dabney Drive about 2:30 p.m. that Monday in March.

They called 911 and told one driver they would stay until police got there to tell what they saw. The driver, according to Donald Ray, said he “messed up” and “ran the light.” He also told the Rays they could leave.

When police arrived, the Rays soon learned they were accused of threatening the driver.

According to the Henderson Police Department, the Rays were subsequently charged with failing to secure two firearms in their vehicle properly while a juvenile child sat in the rear seat.

The charge warrants note two counts each of leaving a firearm in access to an unsupervised minor. The Rays say the child was “strapped in” to a rear seat and the two guns were in the center console of the Ford Mustang.

The couple said police took them away from their car to talk to them separately. Donald Ray, who had mentioned having the guns in asking Wendy to return to the car with their nephew, was also charged with going armed to the terror of people.

The warrant against Donald Ray notes the accused “armed themselves” with firearms. It also reads, “. . . terrorized others on roadway by stating did not have permit and needed to conceal guns before law enforcement arrive.”

Their cases were scheduled for hearing Aug. 13. But the lawyer they hired, Steven DeCillis, got a five-year suspension from the North Carolina State Bar effective Aug. 2.

“We had to both get new attorneys,” Donald Ray added. “We thought, this wasn’t our fault, so we asked for an appointed attorney. But we couldn’t get the same attorney appointed. I just can’t figure that out.”

“The police said they won’t give us our guns back until we go to court,” Wendy Ray said. “Then our lawyer got suspended. That was a big wrinkle. We had DeCillis, who told us we did nothing wrong. But he also told us we would have to get new representation.”

Their next court date is in November.


Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.