Lawyer challenges death penalty in Good Friday case
BY BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Thursday, January 10, 2013
1/10/13 at 7:48 AM
Lawyers for one of two defendants who are charged with murdering three people in Tulsa on Good Friday filed court challenges Wednesday to a death-penalty request and to the sufficiency of the evidence presented at a preliminary hearing.
Jacob Carl England's position is that a motion to suppress his statements to police should have been sustained and that therefore evidence from his in-custody interrogation should not have been considered in deciding whether he should have been bound over for trial, a document filed by the defense says.
Even if the statement to police could be considered admissible, "the evidence was insufficient as to establish probable cause," defense lawyer Rob Nigh wrote in a brief.
Tulsa County prosecutors will have an opportunity to file a response before this motion and others are argued at a Feb. 25 hearing.
No trial date is yet set.
England, 20, and Alvin Lee Watts, 33, are each charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with an intent to kill, and five counts of malicious intimidation or harassment on account of race - or hate crimes.
When arraigned Wednesday, England and Watts declined to enter pleas.
District Judge James Caputo entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of each defendant.
England and Watts are accused of shooting five black people at random at four north Tulsa locations on April 6 - Good Friday.
At a 2012 preliminary hearing, defense attorney Clark Brewster asserted on England's behalf that a Tulsa police detective, in assuring England that a recorded statement was confidential, contradicted a previous Miranda warning that anything England said "can and will be used against you" in court.
At the preliminary hearing, Special Judge David Youll rejected a motion to suppress England's statements, but the issue can be raised again before the trial judge, Caputo.
Prosecutors allege that both England and Watts deserve the death penalty.
In court Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler read aloud the charges and the alleged "aggravating circumstances" that support the requests for death sentences.
Another filing on England's behalf maintains that the bill of particulars that supports the request for the death penalty is deficient and should be stricken, as "it does not satisfy the demands of due process."
The defendants face murder counts linked to the fatal shootings of Dannaer Fields, 49, Bobby Clark, 54, and William Allen, 31.
Counts of shooting with intent to kill involve two victims, David Hall and Deon Tucker, who survived.
Shena Burgess, one of Watts' public defenders, said she will soon file a motion seeking to have Watts and England tried separately.
The defendants are listed in court records as white, although there was testimony at the preliminary hearing to indicate that England is an American Indian.
Original Print Headline: Lawyer challenges death penalty
Bill Braun 918-581-8455
Jacob Carl England (left) and Alvin Lee Watts: England, 20, and Watts, 33, are each charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with an intent to kill and five counts of malicious intimidation or harassment on account of race. Prosecutors say both men deserve the death penalty
Rob Nigh: He filed a challenge to requests for the death penalty