MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 5, 2012

Area man gets 30 years in death

Haskell resident sentenced for manslaughter in crash, perjury

By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Asked what he thought a proper punishment was for a 2010 crash that claimed the life of a Haskell man, Charles North quoted the Bible.

“For a life taken, what can I say?” North said. “What does God say? An eye for an eye?”

North was sentenced to 30 years in prison for a 2010 crash that claimed the life of Chad Gordon, 33. The final 10 of those years were ordered suspended by District Judge Tom Alford.

North, 55, had been charged with first-degree manslaughter for the crash that claimed Gordon’s life, and perjury for lying on the stand during a previous hearing.

North received a one-year sentence for perjury, to run concurrent with his manslaughter sentence.

Gordon was killed July 8, 2010, after North, an unlicensed driver, ran a stop sign at the intersection of Skelly and Kiowa roads near Haskell in a pickup with another vehicle’s tag on it.

North said he was driving to work when his cell phone fell off the dash. He reached down to pick it up, and “That’s the last thing I remember,” he said.

His pickup struck Gordon’s vehicle. Gordon, a supervisor at OG&E, died at the scene and North suffered various serious injuries.

Toxicology reports after the crash showed North had hydrocodone, a prescription painkiller, in his system. North and his attorneys have maintained the bloodwork those tests were done on was taken after North had been hospitalized for wounds he suffered during the crash.   

Muskogee County Assistant District Attorney Dan Medlock asked North on Monday if he was aware hydrocodone pill bottles  were found among the wreckage after the crash. North replied he kept screws and other work material in pill bottles.

North was ordered to go through a substance abuse program while in Department of Corrections custody.

North’s family, ex-wife and current girlfriend testified that North was not a violent person, and that he had a home and a job waiting for him if he was released from prison.

Three members of Gordon’s family read victim impact statements, in which they stated their desire to see North incarcerated.

“Five books couldn’t tell the hurt (North has) caused us,” said David Gordon, Chad Gordon’s father.

First-degree manslaughter falls under Oklahoma’s 85 percent statute, so North will be required to spend 17 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

An emotional North hugged and said goodbye to more than a dozen friends and family after the sentencing. Gordon’s family met briefly with Medlock before leaving the courtroom.

“We’re glad it’s at this point, and we don’t have to come up here anymore, and we don’t have to go through this process anymore,” said Diane Gordon, Chad Gordon’s mother. “We’re glad he’s going to prison, and we’re glad he can’t put another family through the pain he put us through. But we still don’t have a son.”  

North has 10 days to withdraw his guilty plea.

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