TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Prosecutors said Friday they would seek the death penalty against two Tulsa men charged in an April 2012 shooting rampage that killed three black people and left two others wounded.
Jake England, 20, and Alvin Watts, 33, are charged with first-degree murder in what authorities describe as the racially motivated killings of William Allen, Bobby Clark and Dannaer Fields, who were shot over Easter weekend as they walked near their homes.
England and Watts, who also face hate crimes charges, are due to be arraigned Wednesday in district court. Under Oklahoma law, the potential punishment on each of the murder charges is either life in prison with parole, life without parole or the death penalty.
“The defendants are presumed to be innocent under the law but we will be prepared to present our evidence at future due process hearings,” District Attorney Tim Harris said in a statement Friday.
Attorneys for both men said Friday they had hoped prosecutors would have decided against seeking the death penalty.
“I’m always disappointed when it is filed because I’m against the death penalty, but that’s a part of the world I live in,” said Shena Burgess, one of Watts’ public defenders.
Clark Brewster, who is handling England’s defense pro bono, said he still held “some degree of hope” for his client despite Friday’s announcement.
“We’ll be very, very well prepared and very careful in our defense of this young man,” Brewster said. “He’s only 20 years old. I never think killing is a good idea, on either side.”
The shootings happened in a predominantly black section of Tulsa — not far from where one of the nation’s worst race riots happened more than 90 years ago — and all five victims were black.
Authorities have said England may have targeted black people because he wanted to avenge the death of his father, who was shot by a black man in 2010. But England, who describes himself as Cherokee Indian, has said he has no ill will toward black people.
The senior pastor at the First Baptist Church North Tulsa, where civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke in the days following the shootings, said the trial will provide “some sense of satisfaction.”
“Obviously, it won’t bring back those who unfortunately perished, but I’m just happy to see justice and two young men being brought to trial,” Anthony Scott said.
At a hearing in July, England’s uncle testified that England and Watts treated the mass shootings as a contest. Timothy Hoey said Watts told him a day after the killings that Watts and England each shot two people and England shot the fifth victim “that would break the tie,” Hoey said.
Hoey also testified that the day after the shootings, England used racial slurs to describe whom they shot. During that emotional testimony, England and Watts were stone-faced, sometimes looking down at the floor.
Cindy Wilde, the mother of England’s ex-girlfriend, said Friday she had hoped prosecutors would seek life in prison for England instead of capital punishment. But, she added, she’s turned everything “over to the Lord” because she can’t bear wrestling with the crimes England is accused of committing anymore.
“That’s the only way I can get on with my life is to give it up to Him,” she said. “I can’t deal with it. It’s God’s choice on what happens now.”
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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