MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

May 15, 2014

City man gets 20 years in prison

Man apologizes to family after manslaughter conviction

A Muskogee man apologized to the family of the woman he killed before he was sentenced to prison Wednesday.

Sothea Renordo McConnell quivered and spoke softly as he told Lesley Turay’s family members that he was sorry for their “pain and suffering.”

“I wish I could bring everything back. I’m sorry I can’t,” McConnell said.

McConnell, 24, received a 30-year sentence, with the last 10 years suspended, for the charge of first-degree manslaughter.

He received a concurrent five-year sentence for the charge of possession of controlled dangerous substance. McConnell also was ordered to attend counseling while incarcerated.

Charges were filed against McConnell following a Dec. 22, 2012, collision west of Muskogee. Turay, 46, of Tulsa was killed in the crash.

Before he was sentenced Wednesday, McConnell apologized to Turay’s family members and heard victim impact statements.

Mable Pope and her husband Ronnie are the grandparents of Turay’s two children. The lives of Turay’s children and the Popes were destroyed by McConnell’s action, Mable Pope read.

“This victim’s impact statement cannot reveal the hurt and loss we’re suffering,” she said. “In fact, no one can measure the magnitude this death has placed on our family.”

A statement from Turay’s daughter also was read.

“On Dec. 22, 2012, I received the news of my mother’s death,” Turay’s daughter wrote in her victim witness statement, which was read in court. “I was completely distraught. This news put me in a very confused state that I was not prepared for, and I still hurt. My mother is gone forever. I loved my mother, she was my everything, my best friend.”  

McConnell’s attorney said his client needs punishment and is “willing to accept punishment,” but asked the judge for leniency so that his child, who is a year old, doesn’t grow up without a father, as McConnell did.

District Judge Tom Alford said in a situation such as this case, there is nothing that can be said to make it better. He said it was a “tragedy all the way around.”

“To say the victim was an innocent bystander would be an understatement,” said Dan Medlock, assistant district attorney. Drugs are not a victimless crime, he said, adding that the vehicle crash “is a result of what drugs can do.”

Court records show that McConnell has a criminal history that had escalated, regarding the severity of the crimes, Medlock said. He asked the judge to sentence McConnell to at least 25 years in prison, plus probation.

The fatal collision occurred on Oklahoma 16, a mile west of Muskogee. Turay was driving a 2001 Cadillac Deville in the eastbound lane when it was struck by a 1997 GMC Yukon that McConnell was driving, according to an Oklahoma Highway Patrol report. The Yukon was westbound when it crossed the center line and struck the eastbound Cadillac.

An affidavit filed by an OHP trooper who worked the crash states that McConnell had drugs in his system as well as a bag of marijuana in his right front pocket. There was also an open container of alcohol in the vehicle’s floorboard.

Reach Anita Reding at (918) 684-2903 or areding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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