Defendant in Good Friday shootings seeks separate trial
BY BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Saturday, January 12, 2013
1/12/13 at 7:39 AM
"Mutually antagonistic" defenses in the Good Friday triple homicide make separate trials necessary for Jacob Carl England and Alvin Lee Watts, a court document filed on behalf of Watts states.
Material provided in the pretrial exchange of information about the case "indicates that there will be conflicting defenses" that would cause Watts to have to defend "against both the State of Oklahoma and the co-defendant," according to a filing Friday by Deputy Chief Public Defender Shena Burgess, representing Watts.
For jurors to believe Watts' defense, they must "necessarily disbelieve" England's defense. Each defendant can convince the jury of his own theory of defense only by persuading the jury to convict the other co-defendant, the document filed for Watts states.
Reports indicate that at the time of England's arrest, he made statements to police implicating Watts, Burgess wrote.
Also Friday, Burgess filed a challenge to the legality of Watts' arrest, contending that it was unreasonable and unconstitutional, and therefore any evidence and statements arising from the arrest should be suppressed.
Tulsa County District Judge James Caputo has scheduled a Feb. 25 hearing on motions filed in the case.
England and Watts are accused of shooting five black people at random at four north Tulsa locations on April 6 - Good Friday.
Watts and England were arrested April 8 and charged April 13. Some nine months later, no trial date is set in the case, in which prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty for both defendants.
England, 20, and Watts, 33, are each charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill, and five counts of malicious intimidation or harassment on account of race - or hate crimes.
In challenging Watts' arrest, Burgess says that "all of the discovered facts leading up to the arrests pointed directly to and only to England."
Lawyers for England filed documents earlier this week attacking the death-penalty request and challenging the sufficiency of the evidence regarding England presented at a preliminary hearing in 2012.
England's position is that a motion to suppress his statements to police should have been sustained and that therefore evidence from his interrogation should not have been considered in deciding whether he should have been bound over for trial, according to a document filed by Rob Nigh, one of England's attorneys.
At the preliminary hearing, attorney Clark Brewster asserted on England's behalf that Tulsa Police Detective Vic Regalado, 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 the motion to suppress England's statements and rejected the request to suppress evidence stemming from Watts' arrest. Those issues can be raised again before the trial judge, Caputo.
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.
In a prior court filing, Tulsa County First Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond wrote that Watts, when interviewed by police, initially minimized his role in the shootings but "subsequently detailed how he and England committed the crimes."
Watts admitted that he killed Fields and Clark, and he told police that England killed Allen and wounded Hall and Tucker, the prosecutor's filing says.
When England was questioned, he indicated that he shot three people, according to Drummond.
Original Print Headline: Separate murder trials sought
Bill Braun 918-581-8455
Alvin Lee Watts: He wants a separate trial so he doesn't have to defend "against both the State of Oklahoma and the co-defendant."