District attorney to seek death penalty in Good Friday shootings
BY BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Saturday, January 05, 2013
1/05/13 at 6:58 AM
Tulsa County prosecutors filed notice Friday that they will pursue the death penalty for two men who are charged with murdering three people on Good Friday.
Jacob Carl England, 20, and Alvin Lee Watts, 33, are each charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill.
A court document signed by District Attorney Tim Harris alleges that both defendants deserve the death penalty because of two "aggravating circumstances," as defined by statute.
Prosecutors assert that England and Watts knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person and that there is a probability they "would commit criminal acts of violence that could constitute a continuing threat to society."
A jury can impose a death sentence if it finds that at least one aggravating circumstance exists.
On the other hand, jurors can spare a defendant's life even if they find that multiple such circumstances apply.
In a case that drew national attention to Tulsa, England and Watts are accused of shooting five black people at random at four north Tulsa locations on April 6. Prosecutors have labeled the shootings hate crimes and also charged England and Watts with five misdemeanor counts of malicious intimidation or harassment because of race, color, ancestry or national origin.
Court documents state that both defendants are white.
Bobby Clark, 54, Dannaer Fields, 49, and William Allen, 31, were killed in the shooting spree.
The counts of shooting with an intent to kill relate to two victims, David Hall and Deon Tucker, who were wounded and survived.
The filing of a "bill of particulars" stating the alleged aggravating circumstances "allows the jury to consider all three punishments for first-degree murder under Oklahoma law if they find the defendant(s) guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Harris said in a news release.
In addition to death, the punishment options for first-degree murder are life with or without the possibility of parole.
Attorney Clark Brewster, representing England, said his law firm is working "very hard and very zealously" in defending England. He indicated that his firm will be "very prepared" for a trial.
Defense attorney Shena Burgess, representing Watts, said she will soon file a motion requesting separate trials for the defendants.
No trial date is yet set. Both men are scheduled to be arraigned next week in District Judge James Caputo's court.
Death penalty cases
The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office announced Friday that it would seek the death penalty for Jacob England, 20, and Alvin Watts, 33, in the Good Friday shootings. This is the second pending death-penalty case in Tulsa County, and more could follow.
Two other cases - and potentially a third - will be reviewed for death-penalty consideration, according to a spokeswoman in the District Attorney's Office. District Attorney Tim Harris uses a process known as a team review to determine whether the death penalty will be pursued. Members of his staff with experience in death-penalty cases consider various factors of a case and consult with defense attorneys before making a determination about seeking the death penalty.
Here is a look at other Tulsa County cases in which the District Attorney's Office is seeking the death penalty or considering seeking it:
Seeking death penalty
Charged: Joel Rosales Pina and Zane Corbett Atchison
Details: Rosales, 28, and Atchison, 25, are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder linked to the Aug. 30, 2011, shooting deaths of Patrick Shawn, 27, and Kaylyn Kosofsky, 24, outside the Open Bible Fellowship, 1439 E. 71st St. Shawn was found dead on the church parking lot pavement near a QuikTrip convenience store at 1415 E. 71st St. Kosofsky's body was found in the passenger seat of a car in another area of the parking lot, according to police.
Will be reviewed
Charged: Tyrone Dale David Woodfork
Details: Woodfork, 20, faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of Nancy Strait, who was 84. He also faces trial on six other felonies - two counts of armed robbery, two counts of first-degree rape, and single counts of first-degree burglary and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Woodfork is accused of raping and killing Strait and beating her husband in a March 14 home invasion. Her husband, Bob Strait, 89, died nearly two months later. A medical examiner ruled that he died of natural causes.
Will be reviewed
Charged: Willie A. Wise and Jeremy Lee Foster
Details: Wise, 20, and Foster, 22, face two counts of first-degree murder in the killings of Graydon Wesley "Wes" Brown and Scott Dewayne Norman, who were fatally shot July 14 at the Best Buy store at 5520 E. Skelly Drive. Brown, 58, was shopping with his 10-year-old daughter inside the store when he was hit by gunfire from outside. Investigators believe that Norman, 34, who was outside the store, was the target of the gunshots.
Review is possible
Charged: Jerard Dwaine Davis and Darren Price
Details: Davis, 22, and Price, 20, each face trial on two counts of first-degree felony murder. They are charged in the Sept. 18 slayings of Carissa Horton, 18, and Ethan Nichols, 21. Horton, an Oral Roberts University student, and Nichols, who worked at the Blue Bell Creamery in Broken Arrow, were found dead Sept. 19 in Hicks Park, in the 3400 block of South Mingo Road. Both had been shot in the head. Davis and Price are both also charged with two counts of robbery with a firearm.
Here's a look at current death-row inmates who were convicted of crimes in Tulsa County. All 13 were convicted of first-degree murder:
Anthony Banks||Oct. 28, 1999||Sun I. "Kim" Travis, 24|
Michael A. Browning||March 28, 2003||Harry Hye, 64; Teresa Hye, 42|
Jemaine M. Cannon||March 26, 1996||Sharonda White Clark, 20|
James J. Fitzgerald||Nov. 13, 2000||William J. Russell, 22|
Clarence R. Goode Jr||Jan. 14, 2008||Kayla Burchett, 10; Tara Burchett-Thompson, 25; Mitch Thompson Jr., 28|
John Fitzgerald "George" Hanson*||May 18, 2001||Mary Agnes Bowles, 77; Jerald Thurman, 44|
Shelton D. Jackson||Dec. 4, 1998||Monica Decator, 23|
Raymond E. Johnson||July 28, 2009||Brooke Whitaker, 24; Kya Whitaker, 7 months|
Wade G. Lay||Oct. 24, 2005||Kenneth Anderson, 36|
Victor C. Miller||Nov. 17, 2008||Mary Agnes Bowles, 77; Jerald Thurman, 44|
Jeremy A. Williams||March 6, 2006||Amber Rogers, 26|
Sterling B. Williams||May 10, 1999||LeAnna Beth Hand, 22|
Michael L. Wilson||April 9, 1997||Richard Yost, 30|
* Hanson is serving time in federal prison for robbery and gun crimes.
Original Print Headline: DA to seek death penalty
Bill Braun 918-581-8455
Jacob Carl England (left) and Alvin Lee Watts: The two are accused of shooting five black people at random at four north Tulsa locations on April 6.
A memorial to those killed was set up at 63rd Street North and Denver Avenue in Turley after the Good Friday shooting spree. Tulsa World file