When Jeffrey Brummer of East Bernard went fishing and swimming at a favorite spot by the bridge over the San Bernard River on June 11, 2018, with his three young sons and a friend, he had no idea that a man he later gave a ride to that day would soon be arrested for allegedly murdering three Angleton residents.
Brummer was one of a few prosecution witnesses to testify recently in the capital murder trial of Robert Allen Satterfield.
After seeing a notice on Facebook with Satterfield’s picture, Brummer contacted Precinct 2 Constable John Szymanski, and soon thereafter was speaking to Texas Ranger David Chauvin.
That information turned out to be very helpful to the case against Satterfield because Brummer saw a car on June 11 and June 12 under the bridge that later was identified as the 2015 Hyundai Genesis belonging to Maya Victoria Rivera, 24, the second person Satterfield has admitted to shooting to death on June 10.
Brummer testified that while he saw Satterfield walking along the bridge above the car, he did not see him driving or entering or exiting the vehicle.
The first shooting victim that day was Ray Shawn Hudson Sr., 28, and his son Ray Shawn “Baby Ray” Hudson Jr., 4, was the third fatality. Satterfield is being tried for the murder of Baby Ray, who would have celebrated his fifth birthday the day after he died. He is not being tried in the deaths of Baby Ray’s father, Ray Shawn Sr., or his mother, Maya.
Prior to Brummer’s testimony, two forensic pathologists told the jury that due to “thermal trauma” (exposure to extreme heat) no DNA could be extracted from the limited amount of bone fragments and teeth recovered from the burn pit where they were found. However, they were able to determine that at least two adults, one being a female (a female pelvic bone was collected), and one “sub adult” between the ages of 3-6, were excavated from the burn pit.
Those expert witnesses were Dr. Joan Bytheway, who at the time was director of the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility at Sam Houston State University, and Dr. John Servello, senior forensic anthropologist at the Center for Human Identification laboratory on the campus of the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.
Bytheway was called to the burn pit on Henry Floyd’s property near Burr where Satterfield has admitted to dumping, burning, and burying the remains of the family.
She testified she was called to the scene June 16, 2018, by Texas Ranger David Chauvin, arriving with a couple of her graduate students at 5:47 p.m. and leaving about 10 p.m. Also at the scene was Texas EquuSearch, including its founder, Tim Miller.
Bytheway explained her primary task was to determine whether bones and teeth that had been uncovered were human or animal. Ranger Chauvin testified earlier he needed that determination in order to draw up three arrest warrants for murder.
Bytheway said she was able to determine they were human, but that she would need to get the remains into her lab at SHSU for further identification. However, the remains were sent to the Texas DPS Crime Lab in Houston, and to the Center for Human Identification, so she didn’t see them again.
She said while in the pit she did pack, seal and label remains as they were brought to her.
Bytheway said had she been in charge of the recovery she would have “done some things differently,” acknowledging when asked about the backhoe that it could have further fractured the bones already degraded by the fire. The remains were about 4½ feet below the surface.
Asked if she charged for her services, she said she did not.
“As a state employee I was helping other state employees,” Bytheway said.
Dr. John Servello, senior forensic anthropologist with the UNT Center for Human Remains Identification, provided the most extensive testing of the remains. He said he was asked to determine if the remains were human, and how many individuals were represented.
He was able to determine both, and with pictures of the bones sorted by type and sex where possible, he explained to the jury what they were looking at. He said he spent less than a month with the forensic study before writing his report.
Servello said he identified some bones belonging to a child between the ages of 3-6, as well as bones of at least two adults, one of which was a relatively young female.
Asked how he determined there were at least two adults, he said there were two left humerus (upper arm) bones and two right calcaneus (heel) bones.
Because DNA could not be recovered, Servello said he could not say the bones were those of Baby Ray or his parents.
“Hey, you need a ride?”
Brummer, subpoenaed by District Attorney Dawn Allison, said in June 2018 he was recovering from a motorcycle accident. He decided to take his sons and a friend to a swimming and fishing hole on the San Bernard River.
He said it was starting to get hot about noon on June 11 so he felt he should get his sons out of the heat. They were loading up his pickup when he noticed a car parked under the bridge. He said it wasn’t there when he arrived. He then saw a man walking on the bridge against traffic by the rail. He was wearing a black shirt.
“Hey man, you need a ride?” he yelled at the man. The man accepted the offer.
“Why did you ask him,” Allison asked. “It was hot,” he said, adding the nearest town was several miles away.
Satterfield and the three boys got in the back seat.
Brummer said he first went to his house so his friend could retrieve his car. The friend had to leave for West Texas the next day to get back to his drilling rig.
Brummer had agreed to drive Satterfield to Wharton to the Crown Inn Motel where he was reportedly staying, but first they stopped at a couple of convenience stores in East Bernard, both of which captured Satterfield with their surveillance cameras. Brummer said he was with Satterfield about 45 minutes.
The next day, June 12, Brummer again took his boys to the swimming hole, and the car was still there, “parked directly under the bridge.”
Allison asked Brummer if he ever saw Satterfield again. He said he did on a Facebook post about the missing family.
“How did you recognize him?” she asked.
Brummer said he recognized the tattoos.