116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — An Iowa City man accused of fatally stabbing his wife in 2019 will not go to trial this month, a judge said after he met privately with prosecution and defense lawyers Friday.
The trial for Roy Carl Browning Jr., 69, who is charged with first-degree murder, will be reset for the sixth time since 2020. His trial most recently had been set to begin July 12 in Johnson County District Court.
Browning is accused of killing his wife, JoEllen Browning, 65, because authorities said she was going to find out about his risky high-interest loans and falsified banking records.
This trial has been reset because of the pandemic and scheduling conflicts In addition, the defense previously asked for more time for independent forensic testing, according to court records.
Browning also filed a motion Friday to exclude any testimony that would inform jurors he declined to be questioned or stopped questions and asked for a lawyer during a police interview.
He also wants the court to keep out any testimony by law enforcement providing investigative conclusions regarding his wife’s activities, their relationship and statements made by other witnesses about him or his wife’s financial information.
He also wants the court to prevent the prosecution from presenting “opinion testimony” by a lay person or expert about any possible motive he might have had and of any alleged concealment of funds or how they were used because no witness is “competent” to testify about Browning’s “mental processes or thoughts.”
The defense also wants to keep out any testimony alleging Roy Browning was seen with “younger women or beliefs he had one night stands” with other women because it’s irrelevant, according to the motion.
After Roy Browning was arrested in October 2019, investigators said they had determined JoEllen Browning, a University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics budget executive, was going to learn April 5, 2019, that her husband had taken out high-interest loans and falsified banking records.
Investigators said JoEllen Browning had scheduled a meeting with a financial representative that day and would have learned her husband had depleted one of her savings accounts and taken out loans without her knowledge, according to court documents.
During the investigation, law enforcement learned JoEllen Browning had emailed her husband on April 1, asking about the discrepancies in their bank accounts, according to court documents.
She told her husband to contact their bank to ensure he could log into their account so the couple could review the accounts that night.
Authorities said about 20 minutes after Roy Browning responded to his wife that he was aware of the April 5 meeting, he was at a paint supply store buying rubber gloves and towels, which police said they never found.
Investigators found a text message from JoEllen Browning to her husband that said they were to meet with their financial institution at 8 a.m. April 5 — an hour after she was found dead in her home, according to a search warrant affidavit.
Roy Browning called 911 at 6:59 a.m. April 5, reporting his wife was “unresponsive.”
Police found her on the bedroom floor with multiple stab wounds to her front and back torso and on her left hand, according to court documents. A forensic pathologist determined the cause of death was “sharp-force injuries” — stab wounds — and her death was ruled a homicide.
$2 million estate
During the investigation, authorities learned JoEllen Browning had a retirement account and life insurance policy worth more than $2 million, according to court documents. Her husband had no source of income.
According to court documents, Roy Browning is the executor of his wife’s will, which is in probate pending the outcome of his case.
Browning remains in jail in lieu of a $5 million bail.
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