Man accused in Weleetka deaths in court
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
5/18/12 at 8:17 AM
See complete coverage of the Weleetka case.
OKEMAH - Kevin Sweat made his first appearance before a judge Tuesday after being charged last week in the slayings of two Weleetka girls in 2008.
Shackled, wearing an orange jumpsuit and bulletproof vest, Sweat stood silent while the court entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.
Family and friends of Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13, and Skyla Whitaker, 11, as well as those of Ashley Taylor, 23, Sweat's former girlfriend whom he is also accused of killing, gathered in the Okfuskee County courtroom to watch the proceedings.
Some people in the audience became emotional when Sweat entered the courtroom under the protection of Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents, Okfuskee County sheriff's deputies and Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers.
Sweat was charged Friday with two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of the two girls, who were killed June 8, 2008, along a dirt road northeast of Weleetka in rural Okfuskee County.
District Attorney Max Cook personally handed Sweat papers filed last Friday indicating that the state would seek the death penalty.
Sweat said only, "Yes, sir," when asked by District Judge David Martin if he understood the charges against him.
He was ordered to be jailed without bond. He was taken by a caravan of law enforcement officers back to the Seminole County Jail.
Sweat had bruising around his right eye, apparently from an assault that Seminole County Undersheriff Todd Hignite told The Oklahoman took place over the weekend in the jail.
Members of Ashley Taylor's family attended Tuesday's hearing. They said this is only the beginning of a long, painful road for all of the families involved.
"I don't think there is any way you can prepare for it," said Michael Taylor, Ashley Taylor's father.
Her family has told various media about an online journal - or blog - connected with Sweat. In it, Sweat, who wrote under a pseudonym, identified himself and family members by name and divulged his date of birth. He also mentioned a 2009 drug arrest for possession of marijuana, which is reflected in court records.
Several photos were posted to the blog depicting a person who appears to be Sweat holding several firearms.
In November 2008, a post was entered that included the line, "I got a secret for everyone, but I won't mention until I got everything worked out."
Posts to the site go back to 2006 and also mention serving time in the Navy and receiving medication for anxiety.
An entry was posted in May 2010 about his engagement to Ashley Taylor, which he characterized as the "biggest mistake of my life."
In April, he posted that he was going to leave the state in three months. In July, court records show that he and Taylor were planning to leave the state to elope. Sweat returned, but Taylor was missing.
In an affidavit filed Aug. 12 in Okfuskee County District Court, OSBI Agent Kurt Titsworth wrote that OSBI assistance was requested on July 30 by the Okmulgee Police Department in connection with Taylor's disappearance.
Titsworth stated that Taylor was last seen July 15 and that she and Sweat were to have left for Louisiana on July 17. A missing-person report was made July 29 after Taylor was due to return.
Sweat was interviewed on July 30 and again on Aug. 2. He told authorities that after a fight, Taylor asked to get out of the car. Sweat told officers that he pulled over and she got out, which was the last time he saw her, Titsworth stated in the affidavit.
On Aug. 3, Sweat told authorities that on July 17, he and Taylor went to Nichols Park in Henryetta, where he told Taylor he wasn't going to marry her, Titsworth stated. Sweat told agents that Taylor hit him and that Sweat threw a knife at her and said, "Why don't you kill yourself?" Titsworth wrote.
Taylor picked up the knife and walked to a pier on the lake, where she cut herself and fell onto the pier, the affidavit says Sweat told authorities.
Sweat then told agents that he picked up the knife, "cut Ashley's throat and pushed her into the lake," Titsworth stated in the affidavit. Officers searched the lake but did not locate a body.
On Aug. 5 and 6, agents searched Sweat's parents' property near Weleetka, where Sweat told agents he had gone after he let Taylor out of the car. Agents found human remains, women's clothing and prescription eyeglasses consistent with Taylor's near a burn pile on the property, Titsworth stated.
Michael Taylor said Tuesday that faith and family have helped get them through this tragedy.
"I have a strong belief in God, and hatred is not something I want to have," he said.
Sweat is due in court Feb. 22 for a preliminary hearing in charges related to Ashley Taylor. A motions hearing for the charges in the girls' murder case is scheduled for the same day.
Original Print Headline: Accused killer in court
Jerry Wofford 918-581-8310
Kevin Sweat (center) is escorted to a waiting vehicle after a hearing at the Okfuskee County Courthouse in Okemah on Tuesday. Sweat is accused of killing Taylor Paschal-Placker and Skyla Whitaker on a dirt road near Weleetka in 2008. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
Lee Joy Taylor, grandmother of homicide victim Ashley Taylor, talks to reporters before a hearing for Kevin Sweat at the Okfuskee County Courthouse in Okemah on Tuesday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
This undated photo on an online journal kept by Kevin Sweat shows a person who appears to be him with two handguns. Members of Ashley Taylor's family said he kept the blog while dating Taylor, whom Sweat is accused of killing. Photo from DeviantArt.com