Two brothers accused of massacring five family members last month inside their country club home in Broken Arrow both pleaded not guilty Monday morning.
Robert and Michael Bever appeared only briefly Monday, visible inside a cramped bottom-floor courtroom via video arraignment. One of the brothers wore a blue jumpsuit and the other wore traditional orange, though it was impossible to tell who was who, due to the low-quality video.
Both teenagers appeared to be kept separate from the roughly 50 other inmates being arraigned Monday. Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Justin Green said Robert and Michael Bever are being housed separately inside the jail and are in segregated pods.
The two teenagers are not allowed to communicate with each other.
The brothers, 18-year-old Robert and 16-year-old Michael, were arrested in July after Broken Arrow police found five people — 52-year-old David Bever, 41-year-old April Bever, 12-year-old Daniel Bever, 7-year-old Christopher Bever and 5-year-old Victoria Bever — stabbed and hacked to death inside the home.
Police there were responding to a 911 call from either Daniel or Christopher Bever, BAPD spokesman Cpl. Leon Calhoun said. It was originally thought that the call was made from a surviving 13-year-old female victim, due to the quiet nature of the voice, Calhoun said.
The boy told police that “his brother” was attacking the family, but police said it appeared a struggle ensued during the phone call.
Both brothers were found by a police dog in a wooded area not far from the home.
The family was reclusive, according to neighbors, who said they rarely saw the parents (both reportedly worked at home) or their seven children outside. Multiple neighbors said anyone who asked to play with any of the Bever children was turned away.
Though they rarely interacted with neighbors, most of the family members had active presences on social media. Pinterest and Twitter accounts belonging to April Bever had thousands of followers, and Robert Bever had a Facebook account, and a Pinterest account where he posted images of bands that he liked and Internet memes.
Police believe the brothers intended to kill the entire family, including a 2-year-old sister who survived being born extremely prematurely and had been slowly nursed back to health. The boy who made the 911 call likely saved the girls’ lives, Calhoun said.
And there’s no telling how many other lives were spared. News reports stated that a large shipment of ammunition arrived at the family’s home the day after the shooting. The day the boys were arrested, neighbors said rumors had been circulating that both brothers were wearing body armor when arrested and that a list existed with names of others who they planned to kill.
Police have not commented on those rumors.
A city of Broken Arrow spokeswoman said last week the city intended to release documents — including the 911 call — on Tuesday, though that could be blocked. Court records show the public defender’s office intends to ask on Wednesday to seal some records from Broken Arrow. Rob Nigh, who heads that office for Tulsa County, is representing Michael Bever. Cheryl Ramsey represents Robert Bever
Nigh wouldn’t comment on the motion following Monday’s arraignment, and calls to Broken Arrow Police were not immediately returned Monday morning.
In Nigh’s motion for a protective order, he references the city of Broken Arrow’s plans to release the 911 call, along with other documents on Tuesday.
“Said information sought by the media, and at risk of release to the public, includes a copy of the 911 call made to the Broken Arrow Police Department,” the motion states. “Further, according to the Tulsa World article because of the numerous requests for documentation, the city plans to ‘compile all information into a single format for release.'”
The “intense publicity” surrounding the case “poses significant and well-known dangers to a fair trial,” the motion states.
Nigh accused Broken Arrow police of participating “in the prejudicial public declarations,” that “could readily jeopardize the fair trial rights of Mr. Bever.”