A Leland woman has entered a guilty plea to an abuse charge in the death of her 15-month-old son in January, while her boyfriend awaits trial on a charge of first-degree murder.
Angel Marie Ray, 33, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Brunswick County Superior Court to a charge of accessory after the fact to child abuse. Ray and her boyfriend – 35-year-old Albert David Morgan – were arrested Jan. 15, charged in connection with the abuse of her son, Brayden Christopher Ray.
Two days later the couple faced additional charges in connection with the child’s death, when Brayden Ray died at the pediatric intensive care unit at North Carolina Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill.
The child died while allegedly in Morgan’s care, according to Assistant District Attorney Lee Bollinger, who spoke about the case at Angel Ray’s plea. Morgan was reportedly living with Angel Ray and her child at a home in Leland.
Morgan had reportedly stayed at home with the child while Angel Ray, who was pregnant with another child at the time, traveled to New Hanover County to see a doctor for a prenatal check-up. While she was out, Angel Ray received a call from Morgan about Brayden Ray’s injury, Bollinger said.
The couple initially took the child to an emergency clinic in the Waterford area of Leland, but the doctor sent them to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Law enforcement became involved and EMS was called out to meet them at a Burger King just across from the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge in New Hanover County.
Brayden Ray survived a day and a half in the hospital, Bollinger said. The cause of the child’s death was head trauma and bleeding in his brain.
“Emergency room doctors said the child’s injuries were consistent with being in a high-speed crash in a motor vehicle,” Bollinger said. “Our evidence showed Mr. Morgan had beaten the child about the head. Those findings were supported by an autopsy that occurred on the 19th [of January].”
Angel Ray was questioned by a Brunswick County Sheriff’s detective while in a hospital trauma room, but lied to law enforcement about what had caused her son’s injuries. Bollinger said she had initially reported that the child had fallen off the bed.
“To her credit, Ms. Ray on the 21st [of January]…made an attempt from the jail to speak with law enforcement…and gave a four-and-a-half hour statement,” Bollinger said.
As part of Angel Ray’s plea agreement, the State dismissed a charge of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. Her sentencing is pending testimony in Morgan’s case.
Angel Ray’s $750,000 bond was also unsecured as part of her plea. She was released from the Brunswick County jail at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to jail records.
Morgan is facing charges of first-degree murder and intentional child abuse inflicting seriously bodily injury in Brunswick County Superior Court. He was indicted on the charges in May. A trial date for his case has not been set, according to court records.
Attorney James Payne represented Angel Ray in the case, while Attorney Mike Ramos is representing Morgan. Bollinger is prosecuting both cases for the State.