Suspect in Weleetka killings is arraigned in former girlfriend's slaying
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Thursday, August 23, 2012
8/23/12 at 8:17 AM
Read previous stories on the girls’ deaths and the community reaction.
OKEMAH - An Okmulgee man who is accused of killing two Weleetka girls in 2008 was formally arraigned Wednesday on a first-degree murder charge related to the death of his former girlfriend last summer.
Kevin Sweat, 26, is accused of killing Ashley Taylor, 23, of Okmulgee in July 2011.
After attorneys for Sweat waived the reading of formal charges, a not-guilty plea was entered, and Okfuskee County District Judge Lawrence Parish set an Oct. 22 trial date.
Defense attorney Wayne Woodyard said that because of a scheduling conflict, he would not be able to start the trial then and said he would file a motion for a continuance.
A preliminary hearing on the first-degree murder counts related to the deaths of Skyla Whitaker, 11, and Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13, is set for Nov. 5. The two were found shot to death along a rural road northeast of Weleetka in June 2008.
Ashley Taylor's family members, as well as those of Taylor Paschal-Placker, were in the courtroom Wednesday when Parish spoke to Sweat, who was standing in front of the judge wearing an orange jumpsuit and bulletproof vest with his hands cuffed and chained to ankle restraints.
Sweat spoke softly during the arraignment, responding to Parish's questions with only a "yes, your honor," or "no, your honor." Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers and Okfuskee County sheriff's deputies were posted around the courtroom.
The arraignment had been postponed twice after a judge ordered Sweat bound over for trial following a May preliminary hearing.
During that hearing, witnesses testified that Taylor was last seen by her family on July 15, 2011, when she and Sweat left to elope in Louisiana. Taylor's family became concerned when Sweat returned to Okmulgee without her, witnesses said.
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents searched a property near Weleetka, about 70 miles south of Tulsa, that belonged to Sweat's father and discovered an eyeglass lens consistent with Taylor's prescription and "severely fragmented pieces of bone" that the state Medical Examiner's Office was able to determine belonged to a female, according to testimony from OSBI Special Agent Kurt Titsworth.
Sweat was arrested and charged Aug. 12, 2011, in connection with Taylor's death.
Woodyard requested that Sweat's trial be postponed to the beginning of 2013, but Parish indicated that he wanted to get the trial under way before the end of the year.
If the trial doesn't make it to the docket in October, the next docket likely would be early next year, Okfuskee County District Attorney Max Cook said. He also said the judge could have a special docket for the trial.
Original Print Headline: Man arraigned in ex-girlfriend's slaying
Jerry Wofford 918-581-8310
Kevin Sweat, accused of killing two girls in Weleetka as well as his former girlfriend, is escorted out of the Okfuskee County Courthouse in Okemah, where he was arraigned Wednesday on a first-degree murder charge in the slaying of his ex-girlfriend. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Murder suspect Kevin Sweat is escorted into the Okfuskee County Courthouse on Wednesday for his formal arraignment in the slaying of his former girlfriend, Ashley Taylor, 23, of Okmulgee. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World