MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

March 12, 2013

Man faces murder charge after son’s death in crash

Cody Welch is accused of DUI in fatal wreck

— A Tulsa man was formally charged with second-degree murder Tuesday in connection to a crash that killed his young son.

Cody Hamilton Welch, 33, is accused of crashing his pickup Saturday in Fort Gibson while driving under the influence. Welch’s son, a 5-year-old identified in court documents as J.W., was ejected from the pickup and later died in a Tulsa hospital.

An affidavit filed in the case states Welch “stated that he killed his baby boy, and it was his fault,” while being walked to his jail cell at the Muskogee County/City Detention Center.

Court documents state Welch, jailed on $200,000 bond, was charged with second-degree murder for committing the crime of child endangerment for allegedly driving under the influence in the fatal crash.

There were also two alternative charges filed:

• Second-degree murder with a different basis for the charge.

• First-degree manslaughter.  

Court documents state Welch’s alleged state of inebriation at the time of the crash would constitute his third DUI, which would be a felony and allows for the alternate charge of second-degree murder.

The other alternative charge of first-degree manslaughter states Welch was driving under suspension, a misdemeanor.

Second-degree murder carries a potential sentence of 10 years to life in prison. First-degree manslaughter is punishable by between four years to life in prison.  

“A jury will only have the ability to convict him of one of those charges,” Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore said.

Second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter are 85 percent crimes, meaning Welch would have to serve 85 percent of a sentence before being eligible for parole if he is convicted.

Welch also was charged with two misdemeanors — possession of controlled dangerous substance and failure to maintain security. Court documents state law enforcers found a small clear bag with a “green leafy substance” in the front seat of the vehicle after the crash. The affidavit also states Welch appeared unsteady on his feet, had bloodshot, watery eyes, slurred speech and a strong odor of an intoxicating beverage on his person when arrested.

Welch is set for a sounding docket at 10 a.m. March 26 to set a date for his preliminary hearing.

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth @muskogeephoenix.com.

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