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 (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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