Man charged in Weleetka girls' deaths to have preliminary hearing Monday
BY CARY ASPINWALL World Staff Writer
Sunday, January 27, 2013
1/27/13 at 7:34 AM
Read previous stories on the girls’ deaths and the community reaction.
Accused killer Kevin Joe Sweat will face a preliminary hearing in Okfuskee County District Court on Monday on charges that he gunned down Weleetka girls Skyla Whitaker and Taylor Paschal-Placker in 2008.
Sweat, 27, was charged in 2011 with first-degree murder in connection with the June 2008 deaths of Paschal-Placker, 13, and Whitaker, 11.
Both girls were shot multiple times and left to die on a rural Okfuskee County road.
Sweat also has been ordered to stand trial in June in Okfuskee County for the July 2011 slaying of his former girlfriend, Ashley Taylor, who disappeared in the summer of 2011 after she and Sweat left Henryetta to get married.
Sweat has pleaded not guilty in both cases, and prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.
Last week defense attorneys filed a motion to suppress statements Sweat made to law officers during interrogations in September 2011.
OSBI agents interviewed Sweat on Sept. 13 while he was being held in Ashley Taylor's slaying, and he told agents he was driving on a rural Okfuskee County road in June 2008 when he pulled over, got out of his car and was approached by "two monsters," according to court records.
Sweat told the agents he "panicked," grabbed a .40-caliber handgun from between the seats of his car and "shot the monsters." He then grabbed a .22-caliber gun from the glove box and "shot the monsters" again before getting back in his car and driving away, agents said.
Attorneys for Sweat contend that although he signed a waiver of his Miranda rights before making any statements, he made "a clear request to have counsel present," court records state.
Because Sweat did not have counsel present, those statements should not be allowed to be presented in court as evidence, defense attorneys argued. They have also requested that his trial be moved outside Okfuskee County due to media coverage and community interest in the case.
In 2008, the brutal killings of Paschal-Placker and Whitaker grabbed national media attention due to the victims' young ages and the normally peaceful rural setting where they were murdered. For years authorities had no clear leads in the killings.
Then Ashley Taylor's family reported her missing. She was last seen July 15, 2011, when she told her family she was going to Louisiana with Sweat to get married. Her family became suspicious of Sweat after statements he made following her disappearance.
At one point before his arrest, Sweat was confronted by Ashley Taylor's family, and he allegedly told them: "I suppose I'm going to get blamed for this like the Weleetka girls."
They told police about it and later discovered he had been questioned in the girls' killings but never arrested or charged.
Investigators were eventually able to link the Glock .40 caliber pistol used in the Weleetka girls' killings to Sweat, and he was charged in their murders, too.
Prosecutors recently filed a list of nearly 200 potential witnesses to testify on such topics as the remains of Ashley Taylor's bone fragments, eyeglasses and ring found on Sweat's father's property and Sweat's Facebook and social media accounts under false names and alter egos.
Timeline of key events
June 8, 2008: Skyla Whitaker and Taylor Paschal-Placker are gunned down on an Okfuskee County road.
July 15, 2011: Ashley Taylor is last seen by her family; she tells them that she and boyfriend Kevin Sweat are leaving Okmulgee to go to Louisiana to get married.
July 29, 2011: Ashley Taylor's family reports her missing after they haven't heard from her and discover Kevin Sweat is still in town.
Aug. 3, 2011: Authorities arrest Sweat in connection with Ashley Taylor's disappearance.
Aug. 8, 2011: Police announce they found human remains they suspect may be Ashley Taylor's. Sweat is later charged with her murder. Trial date is set for June 10, 2013.
Dec. 9, 2011: Sweat is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Whitaker and Paschal-Placker. Preliminary hearing begins Monday.
Original Print Headline: Man charged in Weleetka girls' deaths due in court
Cary Aspinwall 918-581-8477
Kevin Sweat: The 27-year-old was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Skyla Whitaker, 11, and Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13.