Public Safety

Trial delayed for Iowa City man accused of fatally stabbing his wife

Coronavirus restrictions at jail have limited his time with lawyer

Police vehicles are seen April 7, 2019, outside 114 Green Mountain Dr. in Iowa City, two days after the body of JoEllen
Police vehicles are seen April 7, 2019, outside 114 Green Mountain Dr. in Iowa City, two days after the body of JoEllen Browning, 65, was found inside. Her husband, Roy Browning Jr., charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death, on Friday asked for a delay in his trial, saying he and his attorney had not had time to review “voluminous” case files. (The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — The trial for a man accused of killing his wife, a University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics budget executive, over his risky loans and money troubles, will be delayed.

Roy Carl Browning Jr., 67, charged with first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of JoEllen Browning, 65, on April 5, 2019, in their Iowa City home, asked the court Friday to delay his trial, which had been scheduled to start Oct. 13 in Johnson County District Court.

Leon Spies of Iowa City, Browning’s attorney, said in a motion that coronavirus restrictions at the Johnson County Jail had limited the time Browning and Spies have been able to meet and go over “voluminous” case files.

Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness didn’t resist the motion.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Kevin McKeever set a trial scheduling telephone conference for next Friday.

Investigators charge that Browning had taken out high-interest loans and was covertly moving money from the couple’s savings into his personal account without his wife’s knowledge.

Apparently, that information was going to be revealed to JoEllen Browning the day her body was found on the floor of the bedroom with multiple stab wounds to her torso and on left hand, according to court documents.

According to a search warrant affidavit, Roy Browning called 911 at 6:59 a.m. April 5, saying his wife was “unresponsive.”

A forensic pathologist determined the cause of death was “sharp-force injuries,” and her death was ruled a homicide, authorities said.

Roy Browning was arrested in October 2019, seven months after his wife’s death.

There were no signs of a break-in at the home, court documents showed. Blood was found in the couple’s master bedroom and in the shower. Blood found on JoEllen Browning’s right hand fingernails belonged to her and her husband, court documents state.

Roy Browning was arrested in October 2019, seven months after his wife’s death.

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, and there was evidence he was making financial transactions without her knowledge.

Investigators found photos of “apparent banking records” at the home. But when compared with known records, they found “numerous discrepancies,” including a photo of a nonexistent account.

A text message from JoEllen Browning to her husband showed they had scheduled a meeting at their financial institution at 8 a.m. April 5 — an hour before she was found dead, according to court documents.

About 20 minutes after Roy Browning confirmed via a text he was aware of the meeting, he was at a paint supply store buying rubber gloves and towels, documents showed.

Roy Browning, who was arrested and charged remains in jail under a $5 million bail. If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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