Verdict Reached in Trial of Former Obama Military Aid Who Blamed PTSD for Standoff with Police

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Col. Owen G. Ray
Col. Owen G. Ray, outgoing commander, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), stands at attention during the 1st SFG (A) change of command ceremony July 9, 2020, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. (U.S. Army/Pfc. Gaozong Lee)

A former JBLM colonel has been found guilty by a Pierce County jury of assault and other charges for beating his wife and threatening to kill himself during a standoff with police in 2020.

Col. Owen Ray, 48, was found guilty of three of the seven charges leveled against him, including second-degree assault while armed with a firearm, felony harassment and reckless endangerment. He was found not guilty of the most serious charge, first-degree kidnapping, as well as two other counts of felony harassment. A second count of second-degree assault was dismissed.

Ray was taken into custody on a no-bail hold and was booked into Pierce County Jail. He had been out on $100,000 bail since January 2021. He is to be sentenced Oct 28. The maximum possible sentence he could receive is 10 years in prison.

Ray was formerly the chief of staff of I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He was suspended shortly after the Dec. 27, 2020 standoff and was honorably discharged from the Army last year. According to court records, the defendant is a veteran of more than 25 years with combat experience from eight deployments to the Middle East and Asia. He also served as a military aide to President Barack Obama from 2011 to 2013.

The standoff occurred at Ray's DuPont home. According to charging documents and statements in Pierce County Superior Court, what would become an hours-long standoff where Ray threatened to kill any police who tried to arrest him started with an argument with his wife, Kristin, after he had been drinking.

Kidnapping charges alleged that Ray essentially held his wife hostage in front of their children after she called 911. According to court records, police arrived at the home shortly after midnight, and he allowed his wife and children to leave at about 12:30 a.m. The assault charge stemmed from allegations that Ray stomped on his wife's face and chest with his boots during the incident.

At the end of the two-week trial Thursday, the defendant's attorneys argued that Ray's actions were the result of years of untreated post-traumatic stress disorder, and that the only person he wanted to hurt that night was himself. Prosecutors said that while PTSD could have been a factor, it was Ray's own anger that led to him terrorizing his wife and children.

"He's not up there to say goodbye to his kids," deputy prosecutor Loren Halstrom told jurors during rebuttal argument. "He's not up there to explain why he's going away, he's up there because he wanted control. He wanted the power, and he had that power. He had the gun. He knows the power, the danger, the terror of having a gun."

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