MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 11, 2014

Two killers up for parole


— Two men convicted of separate first-degree murders are scheduled to be considered for parole this month, according to Oklahoma Department of Corrections records.

•  Johnny L. Hardeman, 53, was convicted of the Dec. 4, 1982 shooting death of Sheryl D. Bennett, 20, of Tulsa. He was sentenced to life in prison.

While Hardeman was convicted in Bennett’s death, he had been accused of another murder. Sam Miller Morgan, 79, was shot and slain outside his home at 2916 Court St., on July 2, 1982.

Bennett was Hardeman’s girlfriend, and she was to have testified at Hardeman’s trial in the Morgan case. Prosecutors said Hardeman told her while they were driving past the Morgan residence that he had been involved in a murder there and lost a T-shirt at the house.

She was slain after her role as a prospective prosecution witness became known. Her body was found in a sparsely wooded area at the base of a cliff 2 1/2 miles west of Taft. She had been shot five times. Hardeman was never tried for Morgan’s death, but was convicted in 1983 of killing Bennett.

• Melvin J. Battiest, 53, of Muskogee was convicted in 1984 of first-degree murder in Wagoner County. He is serving a life sentence that began in July 1985. Battiest was convicted of the beating death of Don Cantrell, a 46-year-old Rogers, Ark., man. A passerby found Cantrell’s body in the Wahoo Bay area of Fort Gibson Lake.

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board will meet through Friday at the Kate Barnard Community Corrections Center, 3300 N. Martin Luther King Ave. in Oklahoma City.

Victims or victims’ representatives may testify before the board makes a decision.

Video conferencing is used to conduct personal appearance hearings. A victim or victim representative who wishes to appear at a parole board hearing can notify the Pardon and Parole Board.

Information: Pardon and Parole Board, First National Center, 120 N. Robinson Ave., Suite 900W, Oklahoma City OK 73102 or call (405) 602-5863.

Pardon and Parole Board

Muskogee County

• CHAMBERS, Morgan R. Unlawful possession of controlled drug. 35 years. Sentence began September 2010.

• HARDEMAN, Johnny L. First-degree murder. Life. Sentence began November 1983.

• McELMURRY, Christopher K. Possession of controlled substance in presence of a minor or within 1,000 feet of school or park. 15 years (10 suspended). Sentence began April 2012.

• MEEKS, Brad J. Second-degree burglary. 20 years. Sentence began February 2006.

• PORTER, Raymond E. Jr. Grand larceny. 20 years. Sentence began December 2011.

• SMITH, Mattison C. III. Unauthorized use of a vehicle. 25 years (15 suspended). Sentence began August 2011.

• WASHINGTON, Kevin D. Possession of contraband by inmate. Two years. Sentence began September 2004.



Cherokee County

• HODGE, Danny J. Jr. First-degree rape. Eight years. Sentence began October 2007.

• MOORE, Jeremy L. Possession firearm after conviction or during probation. 10 years. Sentence began September 2011.

• WILLIAMS, Matthew L. Second-degree murder. 25 years (10 suspended). Sentence began October 2002.



McIntosh County

• CASEY, Richard D. Jr. First-degree burglary. 15 years (eight suspended). Sentence began July 2010.

• DAVIS, Jason S. Eluding a police officer. 15 years. Sentence began May 2007.

• LOGNER, Ralph A. Possession of controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute. Eight years. Sentence began March 2010.

• PATILLO, Michael J. Possession of firearm. 10 years (five suspended). Sentence began November 2013.

• ROBERTSON, Shawn D. Larceny of auto. 20 years (15 years and 11 months suspended). Sentence began November 2013.

SMITH, Michael C. Falsely personate another to create liability. Five years. Sentence began November 2013.



Wagoner County

• BATTIEST, Melvin J. First-degree murder. Life. Sentence began July 1985.

• BELL, Laverna A. Larceny of merchandise from retailer. Five years (three suspended). Sentence began October 2013.