MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

December 28, 2012

Okla. AG wants convicted killer's appeal dismissed


Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Attorney General's Office has urged a Delaware County judge to dismiss the latest appeal of a man convicted in the killing of a Missouri banker 23 years ago in northeastern Oklahoma.

Shannon Wayne Agofsky was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in the October 1989 drowning death of Dan Short, who was the president of the State Bank of Noel, Mo., at the time. Prosecutors allege in court papers that the post-conviction motion challenging Agofsky's Oklahoma conviction is part of his effort to avoid a federal death sentence for the unrelated beating death of an inmate at a prison in Texas.

"Petitioner's Oklahoma proceedings appear to be part of a carefully crafted attack on the evidence supporting the federal death sentence," a response to Agofsky's motion filed by Assistant Attorney General Seth Branham states. Evidence supporting the federal death sentence included evidence surrounding Short's death.

Agofsky, 41, is currently on federal death row in Terre Haute, Ind., and the case has been stayed while he challenges his Oklahoma murder conviction. Branham argues that Agofsky's motion should be dismissed because more than two decades have passed since Short's death and his motion is merely a litigation tactic intended to delay the Texas case.

"The primary purpose of the Oklahoma litigation is not to undermine petitioner's Oklahoma murder conviction. Rather, it is to produce some basis to challenge his federal death sentence in Texas," the state's response says. "Petitioner is a classic death row inmate, empowered by a squadron of lawyers with vast federal resources, who will stop at nothing to trump the federal death sentence."

Diane Clay, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office, said Friday that no hearings are scheduled in Agofsky's Oklahoma appeal.

Oklahoma prosecutors alleged that Agofsky and his brother, Joseph Anthony Agofsky, 46, abducted Short from his northwest Arkansas home, took him to the bank in Missouri and forced him to open the vault, which the Agofskys robbed of $71,000.

Short was then driven into Oklahoma, tied with duct tape to a weighted chair and dumped alive into Grand Lake near Grove. His body was found five days later.

Joseph Agofsky was also tried for Short's death but jurors were unable to reach a verdict and prosecutors declined to try him a second time. Each of the Agofskys received separate life sentences in federal prison for robbing their hometown bank.

Shannon Agofsky was subsequently charged with the January 2001 death of inmate Luther Plant at the Federal Correctional Complex at Beaumont, Texas.

The men were in 15-by-20-foot exercise cages at the prison when authorities said Agofsky, who is experienced in martial arts and has a first-degree black belt in the Hwa Rang Do, stomped Plant's head with his foot.

Plant, 37, was in the eighth year of a 15-year term for arson and firearms violations related to the 1987 burning of a Texas nightclub.