A teenager who killed a Broken Arrow teacher and raped an elderly woman during an armed robbery spree has received a life without parole sentence plus 100 years — the harshest punishment a Tulsa County judge has imposed on a minor since 2004.
Deonte Green’s sentence was announced after Tulsa County District Judge Kelly Greenough found the teen “irreparably corrupt and permanently incorrigible,” a criterion for imposing life without parole on a defendant who was a juvenile when the crime occurred.
Green was 16 when he fatally shot Shane Anderson, a Broken Arrow Public Schools middle school geography teacher, and committed the rape on Oct. 1, 2017.
Greenough handed down a life without parole sentence on a first-degree murder count and a combined 100-year sentence on three of the five armed robbery counts and the rape charge, which will be served consecutively.
“I’m grateful the judge’s sentence reflected (Green’s) character, his crimes, his inability to live within the boundaries of society,” Darcie Anderson, Shane Anderson’s wife, said after the decision. “But in the end nothing’s going to bring my husband back. So while I’m glad that justice was served in his case, I would trade anything to have my husband back.”
Green, now 18, entered blind guilty pleas, or pleas without a recommendation from a prosecutor, in March to 19 felony counts and one misdemeanor charge.
While announcing her findings Wednesday, Greenough said evidence showed that Green acted “without regard for empathy to his victims” and found that he exhibited “a pattern of assaultive behavior” even after being in custody at the Tulsa County jail.
Tulsa County Sheriff’s Sgt. Virgil Collett had testified Tuesday that Green had at least an estimated 30 incident reports in his file since being arrested for Anderson’s death.
Green’s case marks the first time since 2004 that a defendant in Tulsa County has received life without parole for a crime committed before his or her 18th birthday. Darrel Miller, who was 17 when he was charged with murder, pleaded guilty to life without parole that year for killing a man during an armed robbery in exchange for then-District Attorney Tim Harris’ withdrawal of his request for the death penalty.
The U.S. Supreme Court determined in 2005 that it is unconstitutional to sentence anyone to death for an offense committed before the defendant was 18.
In the case resolved Wednesday, Green committed a series of armed robberies that on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 2017, in south Tulsa. He was on juvenile probation as of August 2017 after being adjudicated for four felony property crime charges related to two previous incidents.
Green had a dozen referrals on his juvenile record, starting when he was 11, according to records the Tulsa World obtained in 2017.
“This is not a single bad day,” Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray said. “Deonte Green has worked up to this for years. For somebody that age to have this kind of criminal history is staggering.”
As part of his plea, Green admitted stealing a vehicle from an elderly couple on Sept. 30, then robbing a second elderly man and woman the next day. He forced the second couple to drive him to an ATM to withdraw money and ultimately robbed another ATM customer who tried to assist with the transaction.
He admitted to then raping the elderly woman at her home, where he also shot at a cat. From that home Green went to the Andersons’ home, where Darcie Anderson said in a victim impact statement that he held her at gunpoint in their garage and demanded money.
Shane Anderson was grading papers when his wife, their daughter and Green came inside the house. He died after Green shot him during a struggle in the living room.
Later that night, Green confronted a couple as they sat in a vehicle in a parking lot, stealing the man’s wallet, groping the woman and making a lewd comment to her. Tulsa police officers arrested Green shortly afterward and said he confessed to the robberies and the homicide.
“This is eating me up day by day,” Green said in a statement to the Anderson family read by one of his attorneys, Stephen Lee. “My intent when I went to your house was not to kill anyone.” He wrote that he “made a mistake,” and he asked the family for forgiveness.
He also referred to himself as a “misunderstood boy” and said he was not a monster, but Darcie Anderson later said the language in the letter led her to believe that Green — who acknowledged struggling to read and write — did not write it himself.
Because Green was a juvenile when the crimes took place, he was legally entitled to a specialized sentencing hearing to determine whether he is “irreparably corrupt and permanently incorrigible.” The designation, a legal standard first established by the U.S. Supreme Court, must be made before a court can consider life without parole for a minor defendant.
Courts are supposed to consider issues such as maturity and sophistication, family environment, legal history, pattern of living, likelihood of rehabilitation and ability to distinguish right from wrong.
Lee and his co-counsel, Mark Cagle, asked for life with the possibility of parole, noting that such a sentence still would not guarantee that Green is ever released. They also asked Greenough to find that Green is not beyond rehabilitation. While they pointed to records indicating that he has an IQ of 59, Greenough said evidence indicated to her that Green is “street-wise.”
Members of Green’s family declined requests for comment Wednesday, but Green’s stepfather, Mario Brown, testified Tuesday that Green lost his grandmother to an apparent heart attack when he was 14. Green’s father died in a police shooting when Green was 10, and Brown recalled how Green planted flowers that were stained with droplets of his father’s blood.
“I don’t know what more sign you need that you need somebody to talk to. That type of trauma requires professional help for a child that age,” Lee said, saying Green never received proper therapy.
He later said he was disappointed in Greenough’s decision, telling the World: “I do not believe in life without parole for juveniles and hope that our criminal justice system eventually abolishes (life without parole) for all juvenile offenders.”
But Gray said Green’s behavior continued to escalate in severity, and he contended that he displayed a lack of genuine remorse.
“In a rare situation like this particular situation, justice, I believe, demanded that he stay off the streets forever,” he said.
WPX Energy's 260,000-square-foot tower will be built on the block of property where the old Spaghetti Warehouse was located.