Jacqueline Ray told detectives in summer 2012 that she arranged the murder of her son-in-law, Leon Baucham Jr., because he was a monster she thought would eventually kill her daughter.
On Friday, Ray found the tables turned.
Relatives and friends of Baucham told a Piece County Superior Court judge that the 34-year-old father of two was a loyal husband, a doting dad and a hard-working Boeing employee who wanted nothing more than to provide a good life for his family.
Ray, they said, was a vindictive, manipulative mother-in-law who paid a man $12,000 to kill Baucham because she didn’t like him and then attended his funeral before detectives connected her to his death and arrested her.
“Jacky Ray arranges my son’s murder, then arranges his funeral and where his ashes are placed,” Baucham’s mother, LaVonne Brown, told Judge Stanley Rumbaugh. “How wicked is that?”
Brown’s comments and those from other people who knew and loved Baucham came during a sentencing hearing for Ray, who faces up to 23 years, four months in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in her son-in-law’s death.
Rumbaugh won’t formally impose sentence until Feb. 7 because Ray’s lead defense attorney missed Friday’s hearing with an undisclosed emergency.
But many of Baucham’s relatives traveled to Tacoma from out of town for the hearing, so Rumbaugh let them have their say.
All praised Baucham as a good man, and many cast Ray as evil personified.
Baucham’s aunt, Evelyn Robertson, referred to a passage from the Book of Proverbs to describe Ray. It lays out the things the Lord hates, including “a proud look, a lying tongue and hands that shed innocent blood.”
“That’s Jacqueline Ray,” Robertson said.
They all defended Baucham against Ray’s charges that he battered her daughter. Baucham did strike his wife once, two months before his death, when he learned she’d been having an affair, they said. Otherwise, he treated his wife with love and respect, they said, and the couple appeared headed toward reconciliation.
“Jacky has repeatedly stated that she had my son murdered because he battered her daughter, because she was fearful for her daughter,” Brown said. “She paints her daughter as a victim. However, there is only one victim in this case: My son, Leon Baucham Jr. And again, he did nothing worthy of being murdered.”
Deputy prosecutor Jared Ausserer recommended a high-end sentence for Ray, saying Baucham would be alive today if not for her. The victim died July 11, 2012.
The man who pulled the trigger, Luis Barker, 39, was sentenced last year to 34 years in prison.
Ray hung her head and wiped at tears throughout the hearing.
She’ll get her chance to talk Feb. 7, right before she finds out how long she’ll go to prison.