DUNCAN, Okla._ The lawyer who has been defending Michael Anthony Ray since July, says the state's case against his client was simply too strong and the evidence too compelling to take the case to trial.
Last week, Ray entered a guilty plea in the Stephens County Courthouse. He's charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of 14-year-old Alyssa Wiles back in June.
Ray now awaits sentencing on March 5. If convicted, he'll face life in prison either with or without parole. Wiles' parents, Angela and Brad, are fighting to keep Ray behind bars forever. Ray's attorney, James Berry, who practices law out of Oklahoma City, argues differently.
"He went through the day about getting the knife and going over there and planning to kill her," recalled Brad Wiles of the latest court hearing last week. "…Stabbing her multiple times and stuff like that; kissing her when he left and walked out the front door … I don't see how anyone could do that."
No day has been normal for the family since that horrific night: "He killed my daughter," said Mr. Wiles. "She has no life now."
Berry acknowledged in a phone interview the state had a solid case against Ray adding they had "strong, compelling evidence of guilt" against his client that wouldn't go over well with a jury.
"We're glad we don't have to sit through a trial and hear exactly what happened to her and how it would have affected her body," said Angela Wiles.
The Wiles family says they have no doubts about who killed their daughter. There are layers of evidence to corroborate the story, too.
Two days after the crime, Ray, 16, came forward to police and confessed. He even led authorities to where he burned the clothes he was wearing at the time and to the knife he allegedly stabbed the 14-year-old girl with a number of times.
"We have to suffer everyday without her knowing that we will never get to see her again until we get to go to heaven," said Mrs. Wiles.
Ray's attorney says his client is "remorseful" but should get a harsh punishment if convicted; he says life in prison would be fair. Down the road, Berry says Ray could "be fit to re-enter society."
The Wiles' don't agree, expressing their pain and heartbreak over the past seven months. Ray should never be a free man again, according to Mr. and Mrs. Wiles.
"I don't think I ever will feel normal again," said Mr. Wiles. "I know there will be (tougher) days ahead but it's always tough."
There is a juvenile involved in this case, as well. That 14-year-old is suspected to have served as a lookout for Ray the night of the killing. He will be prosecuted as a juvenile and will not serve any permanent time for his alleged involvement. That juvenile will be in court on Monday, Jan. 13.