Trial for Roy Browning Jr. postponed for sixth time since 2019

Browning Jr., accused of stabbing his wife, JoEllen, to death in April 2019, submitted a motion to postpone the trial after learning an “indispensable” prosecution and defense witness could not be at the trial’s date in February.


Contributed from the Johnson County Sheriff – Roy C. Browning

Rachel Schilke, Senior Print Editor

The trial for the man accused of fatally stabbing his wife in April 2019 has been postponed for the sixth time.

Roy Browning Jr., 69, is accused of stabbing his wife, JoEllen Browning, to death on April 5, 2019. He is charged with first degree murder, and if convicted, will spend the rest of his life in prison. 

The trial, set for Feb. 1, will now begin on July 12, Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness  confirmed to The Daily Iowan.

Browning has pleaded not guilty and waived his right to a speedy trial and his right to be tried within one year from the date of his initial arraignment, according to court documents.

Leon Spies, Browning’s lawyer, filed a motion for continuance on Dec. 22, 2021, asking the court to postpone the trial after the defendant learned an “indispensable prosecution and defense witness will be unavailable to testify at the trial due to medical circumstances.” 

According to Spies’ motion filing, the prosecution did not resist this request.

As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, JoEllen was found dead in her bedroom with multiple stab wounds to her back and front, according to court documents. The police reported a call from Browning Jr. at 6:59 a.m., stating his wife was unconscious.

According to documents, police ruled her death a homicide from “sharp-force injuries.” Police said there was no sign of a break-in and blood was found on the couple’s master bedroom floor, the shower, and the handle of the storm door.

JoEllen, who worked as a University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics budgeting executive, had a retirement account and life insurance policy worth over $2 million — her husband had no source of income. 

During investigation, authorities discovered Roy Browning had been moving funds from the couple’s joint account, totaling approximately $98,000, into his own personal account. He also took out separate loans of $4,000 on four different occasions from a title and loan company in Illinois, each with an interest rate of 304.17 percent. 

A credit card in JoEllen’s name had a balance of $17,643.86, which Roy Browning was paying off using his separate account. 

At 8 a.m. on April 5, 2019, the couple were to meet with their bank representative, who was planning on letting JoEllen know about the separate account — one hour after JoEllen was found dead.

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