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Trial starts for man accused of killing Lori Bray of Laurel

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Posted at 4:07 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 10:11:25-04

The trial for the man accused of killing 57-year-old Lori Bray in October 2019 and dumping her nude body in a ditch outside Laurel began Monday in a Yellowstone County courtroom.

Diego Hernandez, 24, has pleaded not guilty to one count of deliberate homicide. Judge Michael Moses presided.

First to take the stand Monday was Bray’s son, Justin Smith, who said he was notified that his mother did not show up to work.

Smith said he began to suspect something was wrong went to his mother’s house and found feces in the house and damaged furniture from Bray’s dog who had been unattended.

Smith later found Bray’s car with her purse, phone and clothes left inside and the sunroof open, which he said was not normal.

Prosecutors stated in court documents that Bray had offered Hernandez a ride home in the early morning hours of Oct. 1 after her shift ended at the Cedar Ridge Casino in Laurel. She was reported missing, and searchers found her body the next day in a ditch off Yard Office Road east of Laurel.

Bray’s former boss Kathy Culp also took the stand. She reported that there was one incident where Bray was hiding from a man in the casino office.

Later Culp also noticed Bray’s car on the side of the road and called the police.

The trial will continue Tuesday and is expected to last a few days.